Justin Lagat wrote this piece on the Kenyan athletes who were most impressive this year. Please enjoy and lets us know what you think!
Updated January 2, 2016, to correct picture of Nicholas Bett.
Some of the impressive Kenyan Athletes in 2015, by Justin Lagat
2015 has been a great year with the IAAF World Cross country championships happening earlier in the year, followed by many gold label road races and, most importantly, the IAAF world championships that happened in Beijing.
And, as usual, Kenyans showed their dominance in most of these events, including leading the world on the medal standings at the world championships with seven gold and six silver medals.
Below are some of the Kenyan athletes who were impressive this year are worth watching leading up to the Rio Olympic Games next year:
Julius Yego, photo by PhotoRun.net
1. Julius Yego
He continues to inspire many in the way he took up an event that was not popular in Kenya and perfecting his techniques by watching clips on YouTube until he became a world champion. This year was definitely his best year so far. He threw his best throw of 92.72m; the farthest throw in the last fourteen years. And, that huge throw just came at the right time as he won Kenya the first ever world gold medal in the Javelin Throw.
2. Asbel Kiprop
Kiprop won his third consecutive 1500m world title in Beijing. In the last few years, he has learned to run from any position in the race - front, back or behind- and is one athlete who continues to dominate the men's 1500m event. He also won the 2015 IAAF Diamond league trophy with 17 points.
3. David Rudisha
He finally came back after woes of injuries that followed his spectacular run at the London Olympics in 2012 to win a second world championship title in Beijing. He remains as the king of the 800m.
4. Ezekiel Kemboi
When it comes to major championship races, no one is like Ezekiel Kemboi. It doesn't matter how he performs during other races leading up to the Olympics or the world championships. In the major races, Ezekiel Kemboi is a different athlete altogether, especially when he has a new hair-cut. In Beijing, he was able to lead Kenyans to a 1-2-3-4 finish as he won his fourth world championship title.
5. Vivian Cheruiyot
After her maternity break, Cheruiyot demonstrated in Beijing, by winning the 10,000m gold medal, that she is finally back in her 2011 form and will be one athlete to beat in Rio. Memories of 2011 still linger when one mentions Vivian Cheruiyot. That was the year she won three gold medals; one at the world cross country championships and two at the world championships later in the year.
Eliud Kipchoge, photo by PhotoRun.net
6. Eliud Kipchoge
Even before the first round of the Abbott World Marathon Majors series is over, Eliud Kipchoge has already garnered the maximum possible points one athlete can score. He won the very competitive London Marathon in April that had the current and former world record holders at the starting line. In September, he also won the Berlin Marathon.
7. Mary Keitany
Keitany started racing again from late last year after returning from a maternity break and won the New York City Marathon. She was able to defend her title in New York this year and before that, she had placed second at the London Marathon.
8. Geoffrey Kamworor
This year, Kamworor was heralded for his ability to run on different surfaces and distances. He won the world cross country championship title early in the year, won a silver medal in the 10,000m event at the world championships in Beijing and took a second position in the New York City Marathon.
9. Hyvin Kiyeng
She ran a few diamond league races this year managing to win the Rome Diamond league, but the main achievement for her this year is obviously when she won a gold medal in the women 3000m steeplechase event for Kenya in Beijing. This happened when Kenya needed that gold medal the most, given that each gold medal was crucial for Kenya to remain at the top of the medal standings.
10. Jairus Birech
Birech started the IAAF Diamond League season very well and started accumulating points early in the season. He won Shanghai, Oslo and Paris Diamond League races and was able to lead with 20 points.
11. Nicholas Bett
Bett surprised the world by winning a gold medal for Kenya in the 400m hurdles event in Beijing. Just like Julius Yego, he is inspiring many and expanding the potential of Kenyans to do even better in the future.
12. Eunice Sum
Sum was undefeated this year at the IAAF Diamond league races and won the Shanghai, Eugene, Paris, London and Zurich races. She won the league trophy with impressive 24 points.
13. Virginia Nyambura
Nyambura surprisingly came into the spotlight this year when she decided to finish the Doha Diamond league race while she was only supposed to be a pace setter. She later also won the Birmigham and the Laussane races. She garnered a total of 15 points to win the Diamond league trophy.