NAIROBI, May 23 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan Olympic Committee assured Tuesday that German-born fencer Alexandra Ndolo, 32, is central to Kenya's plans for the Paris 2024 Summer Games.
Ndolo, a silver medalist at the 2022 World Championships for Germany, switched allegiance to her father's native country in September last year. She is considered a medal prospect in a country that heavily leans on its gifted distance runners for Olympic glory.
Ndolo hit the headlines Monday when she accused the Kenya Fencing Federation (KFF) and other sporting authorities, including Olympics Kenya, of lacking financial support to realize her Olympic dream in France.
Olympics Kenya issued a statement to the media Tuesday, explaining they are yet to receive clearance from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for a waiver of the waiting period required for a naturalized athlete to compete for another nation.
IOC rules stipulate an athlete transferring nationality should wait for three years before becoming eligible to compete for another country, though waivers can be considered if all federations and national Olympic committees involved unconditionally release the athlete.
Kenya has since applied to the IOC for Ndolo's consideration to compete under the nation's flag at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Olympics Kenya general secretary, Francis Mutuku, said the committee that will consider this application will next sit in June. Following this, it will be advised on whether a waiver has been granted and, if so, allow the athlete to represent Kenya.
"Financial support available from NOC-K could not be processed as it falls under the Olympics Solidarity for which the above process needs to be completed," Mutuku explained in a statement issued in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.
According to the local Olympics chief, the German Fencing Federation released Ndolo to compete for Kenya on Sept. 9, 2022. The International Fencing Federation approved the request to change nationality on Sept. 17, 2022.
On April 24, a letter from the National Olympic Committee of Germany gave Ndolo a waiver of no objection after Olympics Kenya requested the same. This cleared the path for Ndolo to compete for the East African nation in Paris, subject to IOC approval.
Mutuku emphasized that funds from these programs also support other athletes, such as female lawn tennis hopeful and African champion Angela Okutoyi, now based in the U.S..
He maintained that the funds are insufficient to support individual athletes who may need to participate in several international events to retain good world rankings.
The general secretary announced that Olympics Kenya will hold a retreat with the country's Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Arts, and Sports to discuss all aspects of qualification and participation for Paris 2024.
"The retreat is expected to devise strategic direction, including but not limited to pathways of potential sports towards the Olympics. Ndolo is among the athletes whose pathway is a priority with high chances of succeeding at the Olympics," Mutuku said.
Boxing is the only other sport that has won Kenya Olympic medals. The late Robert Wangila Napunyi remains the sole gold medalist outside athletics after winning the welterweight title at the Seoul 1988 Summer Games.
Since changing her nationality, Ndolo regularly visits the East African country to deliver fencing equipment she collects from donations in Germany, with the aim to help expand the sport in Kenya.
The Paris 2024 Olympics are scheduled to run from July 26 to August 11, 2024. ■