DAlexandra Ndolo's new business card bears a remarkable title: "Director of International Relations and National Development". So far she was staying with her relatives in Nairobi announced more and more simply: "This is the cousin who does the funny sport in a white suit," it was said when the German epee fencer visited her deceased father's country again.
Alexandra Ndolo, who was born in Bayreuth in 1986 and has played at Bayer Leverkusen for ten years, is giving her life a new direction. The World Championships runner-up in 2022 and two-time European Championships medalist is now available Kenya to the sword. And at the same time, as an official, tries to promote the development of her discipline in the sports-crazy East African highlands.
Winning the silver medal
It all started in 2014 with a fencing project in Nairobi. "I travel to Kenya as often as possible," Ndolo says. And always brings in a second suitcase “whatever you need for fencing”: stabbing weapons, masks, suits, cables. And the "grassroots" project is developing. "This year, for the first time, an athlete from Kenya qualified for the World Championships," reports the pioneer with some pride.
Isaac Wanyoike only finished 189th out of 194 participants with the sword - in his six pool matches he scored six goals and conceded 28 - but a start has been made. "When Kenya was there for the first time when the flags were lined up, I was very touched," recalls Alexandra Ndolo, who herself achieved her greatest success to date by winning the silver medal at the World Championships in Cairo.
She is currently ninth in the world rankings – she has only been better placed once in her career. "If you start for Kenya, then now," she says. "I don't want to change on the descending branch."
The officials in the German Fencing Federation (DFB) were not enthusiastic, but did not want to hinder them on their way. "We have complied with her wish to compete for her father's homeland, where she has been involved for years," explains DFB President Claudia Bokel, herself a former world-class epee fencer. For the German women's team, however, it was "a bitter loss" on the way to Paris 2024. As a lone fighter, on the other hand, it would be even easier for Ndolo to qualify for the Olympics via the African quota place.
Proud of extended family in Kenya
Before her first competition for Kenya in mid-November in Estonia, she still has to deal with some "paperwork". "A blatant step," as she says herself - after all, she had also made many friends among her companions.
In Nairobi, on the other hand, she is already considered the pride of her extended family – and half the neighborhood around it. Her father had seven siblings, so the relationship is correspondingly large. He himself was the only one who was allowed to study in Europe - he met his wife in Poland. The couple went to Bayreuth together, where he worked as a cultural anthropologist and she as a lecturer in Polish at the university.
The time had now come for Alexandra Ndolo to give something back to fencing. "They don't need my expertise in Germany or Poland," she says: "I can achieve more in Kenya." Her commitment is already having an effect as a social project - she offers the fencing children from one of the poorer neighborhoods of Nairobi, in addition to a sporting perspective only hot meal a day.