Seven times champion Peter Mathenge and the 2016 champion John Serem are out of this year’s Kenya Open Full-bore Bisley Championships starting proper on Thursday at the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Shooting Range, Laikipia.
Fullbore captain Sanford Otundo, who has won the Kenya Open twice in 2015 and 2017, said work commitments have locked out the legendary Mathenge, who last won the coveted title last in 2007 and Serem.
Otundo added that despite their absence the field still remain rich with four former and reigning champions in the mix, ready for the Kenya Open that has been preceded by several warm up competitions from Monday to Wednesday.
Defending champion Christopher Saina from the General Service Unit (GSU) will be chasing his fifth title against former champions the ever green Satinder Sehmi from Kenya Regimen Rifle Club, Kenya Police Service’s Edward Legei and Otundo.
Saina claimed victory for the first time in 2011 and would retain in it 2012, before capturing the title in 2014 and 2018.
“I am ready for title defence…want to surpass the record currently held by Mathenge,” said Saina. “I know many firers have improved of late but they will need to dig dip to unseat me.”
Legei, who has won the diadem four times with his last time coming in 2013, is making a return after two-year work related sabbatical, having savoured his maiden win in 2001 when he halted Mathenge’s five year reign. Legei won the title again in 2003 and 2008.
“I am back and ready to seal my fifth win God willing,” declared Legei, who finished third during the Kenya Mini-Bisley in May this year, where compatriot Cornelius Koro reigned supreme.
Veteran Sehmi, who handled Team Kenya to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, will be looking to seal a hat-trick after previous wins in 2005 and 2010.
Otundo said he is also ready to reclaim the top honours, but disclosed that they are facing a challenge of the right ammunition.
“We are used to the international 155 grain ammunition and not the 144 grain that are available,” said Otundo. “It takes time for firers to study the wind variation with the 144 grain.”
Otundo said that the Kenya Open that will be held in two stages before the grand finale on Saturday. The Championships Stage One will be held on Thursday followed by Stage Two on Friday, where firers will mount at 300, 500m and 600m in each.
In Stage One, the firers will have two sighters with seven shots to count whole Stage Two has two sighters with 10 shots to count. Two sighters are the first two warm up shots to check wind and other weather variables.
The top 24 shooters after the stages will then head into the grand final on Saturday where they will mount at 800m and 900m where they will have two sighters 15 shots to count.
“The sighting shots will still count for the overall score if they are well on target,” said Otundo adding that in case of a tie at the top, a play-off will take place.