Paul Bitok yields to pressure, steps down from Malkia Strikers' Olympics role

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Paul Bitok yields to pressure, steps down from Malkia Strikers' Olympics role

Joel Omotto 08:30 - 17.05.2024

Kenya Volleyball Federation Vice President Paul Bitok has yielded to pressure and withdrawn from his role as assistant coach of the Malkia Strikers to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) deputy president Paul Bitok has stepped down from his role as assistant coach of the Malkia Strikers to Paris 2024 Olympics.

Bitok has yielded to pressure after the uproar that greeted his inclusion in on the team’s technical bench alongside KVF president Charles Nyaberi, who was installed as team manager.

Pressure has been mounting on both Bitok and Nyaberi since KVF unveiled the Malkia Strikers’ technical bench to the Olympics.

Federation head Nyaberi and his deputy Bitok were named team manager and assistant coach respectively with veteran tactician Japheth Munala as head coach with Malkia Strikers legend Janet Wanja also included.

However, with this coming at a time when KVF opted against continuing an FIVB-sponsored partnership that had the team benefiting from the expertise of Brazilian coaches, who helped them qualify for the 2024 Olympics, the idea to have federation heads double up as technical officials left a bitter taste in the mouths of many, as they were seen as joyriders just out for a trip to Paris.

There have been calls on the duo to step down from the roles from different quarters and Bitok has now thrown in the towel.

“After extensive consultations with the Ministry of Sports, National Olympic Committee of Kenya, Malkia Strikers players, family, friends and fans, I have elected to step down from my position as the assistant coach of the national team,” Bitok said via a statement on Friday.

“This has been largely informed by the strong sentiments that have arisen out of the appointment of the Malkia Strikers technical bench for the Paris Olympics which I was part of.”

Bitok then defended himself against accusations of imposing himself on the technical bench by virtue of his title as KVF Deputy President, saying he has been part of the setup for a long time anyway.

“I would like to clarify that I didn’t impose nor appoint myself to the team but have been a part of them before and during the Olympics qualifiers in Cameroon, long before I was elected KVF Deputy President,” added Bitok.

“It was my wish and plan to end my coaching career in style after this year’s Olympics. Paris would have been the culmination of the eight-year project for Malkia Strikers that I have been honoured to spearhead.”

Bitok is a highly-experienced coach who has handled Malkia Strikers for a long, leading them to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as well as qualification for the Paris Games, alongside the Brazilian coaches, in Cameroon last year.

He previously coached Rwanda national team as well as KCB in Kenya and joined sports administration when he was elected KVF Deputy President last year.

Following his withdrawal, eyes will be on his president Nyaberi, who has insisted he will be on the plane to Paris.