Power team of mum and daughter turning heads
Cate Gachanja and daughter Christine Nimo Wairimu share a special bond – they are big sports lovers.
The two, more often than not, compete as a team and participate in the same tournaments but in different age categories.
While Cate is an administration assistant with a bank in Nairobi, Christine is a class three pupil at Makini School, where she is one of the top swimmers.
“I took up sports while studying at Mukumu Girls High School in western Kenya. I particularly fell in love with swimming because it is one of the best ways of keeping fit by exercising the whole body. I have won three medals in the past three years in various National Swimming Association (Nasa) events,” said Cate, 37.
On the other hand, Christine is relatively new in swimming as she took up the sport after joining Makini three years ago.
“Swimming is fun and I perform well at it. I want to win as many trophies and medals as possible,” said Wairimu, who is eight- years -old.
She has won 24 gold medals, 12 silver, 12 bronze and 13 trophies during her school’s and Nasa championships.
Mother and daughter are also avid cyclists and golfers. Christine is a member of the Rose Naliaka Academy where she plays golf.
“She doesn’t participate in tournaments because she is under 10 and has no handicap yet. Christine is a good player. Personally, I have not had the time to compete in any tournament, but I will definitely take to the course soon,” said Cate.
Their coach Edward Warangi said they made a great team and were an inspiration to other students and parents.
“Aside from being talented in sports, they are hard working and consistent. We train every day for an hour. Christine will grow into one fine swimmer,” he said.
Both feel that in swimming, they are good performers in the freestyle and backstroke categories but are less keen on butterfly. Cate’s personal best time in 50m is 47 seconds, while Christine’s is an impressive 42 seconds.
In cycling, they both take part in championships organised by the School of the Nations in Kitisuru.
“I have won four medals in cycling in four different competitions,” said Christine.
Cate said that cycling is the best way of building endurance, as the effort one puts in to get to their destination requires mental strength. The two ride from their Riara Road home to Makini to hone their cycling skills.
Cate said sports are an integral part of life, adding that parents and schools should take them more serious.
“Sports not only help students to keep fit but they also build their confidence and boost their class work. There should not be a choice between sports and education, students need to be taught to balance both,” she added.
Cate is confident that her daughter would excel in both areas and became an outstanding athlete and scholar.
Swimming is their best sport. While the first term of school is full of swimming galas, the second has far less. This gives the two a chance to explore the other sports.
However, the biggest challenge for Christine is the sharp cut-off points that increase as one moves into a higher age group.
“You start off with 25m, and then graduate to 50m when you turn eight. By the time you’re 10 years old, you move to 200m. I am gradually adapting to the changes and I work harder every time I move,” she said.
Cate and Christine will both be in action at the Nasa Swimming Gala at the Aga Khan High School on March 15 and 16. Christine was invited by Nasa boss Joe Maina because of her outstanding performance.
Mother and daugther took part in the charity Swimathon organised by the Rotaract Club of Nairobi at the University of Nairobi a fortnight ago to help fund the fight against polio.
While Cate only swam for fun, Christine was part of the Makini team that shone in the main event, a 6×200 metres relay.
Christine played a key role in her team’s sterling performance.
Makini was in a class of its own and defeated both the Kenyatta University men’s and women’s teams.