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Kenya's Sole Rower Eyes Final A at Beijing Olympics
    2008-08-04 20:16:58     Xinhua
As the sole rower representing Kenya in the Beijing Olympics, Matthew Lidaywa Mwange has set his sight on a place in the final A in men's single sculls.

Mwange, 29, only started rowing around four years ago, told Xinhua Monday that he will try to make the final A, though it's very hard.

"First thing I can say, I hope for the best this time (in Olympics). In the last Olympics we had a rower also in men's single sculls. He had to go through the heats, his performance was very nice and he qualified for final D. I hope this time I will have a better result," said Mwange.

Mwange likes water sports in general because he is also a sailor. "I'm just interested in rowing," said he. "For other sports, I like running, swimming and playing basketball. You know running, it's our sports."

Due to lack of fund, rowing is not very popular in Kenya.

"In Kenya it's not very popular due to financial problems. The sport is somehow very expensive. "

For the same reason, Mwange hasn't got chances to take part in many world-class regattas.

"I didn't have enough (races) due to lack of fund but that can not demoralize me at all. I participated in All-African Games, and I did very well. "

Mwange doesn't have a professional coach but a local coach. "I just train in Kenya Navy Rowing club in Mombasa. I train twice per day and that's around four or five hours. "

Mwange was born in a large family with eight members, who are somewhat associated with sports.

"They take up volleyball, running etc," said he. "They have given me a lot of morale before I came here, telling me just to continue (in the competition)."

Despite the fact that there is no professional rower in Kenya due to lack of fund and facilities, Kenya is aiming to develop the sport.

"As you see they have sent me to come here to represent the country. But we still need a lot of sponsors since generally in Africa rowing is behind."

As a boost to Kenyan athletes' morale, Kenya will distribute one million Kenyan shillings (about 15,000 U.S. dollars) as a prize for a gold medalist in the Beijing Olympics Games.

"It's a very big prize, "said Mwange.

Mwange likes listening to music and touring. "I have been to many countries but generally I am a local tourist and I just like touring inside my country."
 
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