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Judo gains popularity as Kenya targets Africa conquest

NAIROBI, Mar. 31 (Xinhua) -- Judo is not a big sport in Kenya, but the small following of the martial art confirms that the country is working hard to dominate the event as they prepare for the All Africa Games in Congo in September.

Kenya will compete in two events, from which they will name their final team for the All Africa Games.

Kenya Judo Association (KJA) said Tuesday that 20 players will head to Bujumbura, Burundi on Wednesday for the Cadet and Youth Africa Championship in July. Another 12 players were picked for the 37th Senior Africa Judo Championship in Gabon on April 23-29.

From the two events, 16 judokas will be picked for the All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo, with hopes that they will be able to supplement on track and field, swimming, volleyball and handball in the medal haul for the country.

"The Gabon-bound squad will enter camp immediately after Easter on April 8. The squad will depart on April 20 for the Senior Africa Judo Championship," said KJA Communication Officer Duncan Chemiryo.

Continental silver medalist Esther Akinyi emerged the champion in the women's over 78kg during the KJA National League staged in Nairobi last Saturday.

"I am glad to be part of the squad that will represent Kenya in the Senior Africa and All Africa Games contests. I am looking forward to earning gold in the events," said Akinyi.

East Africa gold medalist Diana Kana beat Dorine Okoth (2-1) and Mary Wanjiku (3-0) to emerge best in the women's U-63kg category. Okoth finished second followed by Wanjiku.

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