Kenya's Eunice Sum Sums up Great Performances by Kenyans in Moscow by Justin Lagat

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Eunice Sum, who did not make it out of the 1,500 meter heats, won the 800 meters in Moscow, as the last medal won by Kenya in the World Champs. Justin Lagat reviews her fantastic race in this column.....

Alysia Johnson-Montano leading on the back stretch.JPG
Alysia Montano leading Eunice Sum in the 800 meters, photo 
by Pretty Sporty Photos

Kenya's Eunice Sum Sums up Great Performances by Kenyans in Moscow
by Justin Lagat

The first individual gold medal to be won in Moscow was in the women's marathon and it went to Edna Kiplagat of Kenya. The last individual gold medal was in the women's 800m and, coincidentally, it also went to Kenya's Eunice Sum. It just became a wonderful beginning on the first day and an amazing ending on the last for Kenya. The women 800m gold was a surprise win. The best we expected in this event was a bronze medal.

Sum had stayed at the best position an 800m athlete should stay in the first lap. She was just behind Montano of the USA, but keeping a slight distance between them. Being at that position enabled her to use Montano as her pace maker and benefitted too from the fact that she was using the shortest path of the lane while some of the athletes behind her would have to move a little to the outer part of the lane if they wanted to overtake. Montano crossed the 400m mark in 56.12 and Sum followed with the rest in 57.16.  In the last 200m, Sum and the rest started closing in on Montano. With less than 100m to go, Sum was the first to run past her and continued to open a gap ahead.  She crossed the finish line in a personal best time of 1:57.38. Mariya Savinova of Russia followed in 1:57.80. Brenda Martinez of USA crossed the line third in 1:57.91 before Alysia, who had not economized her energy in the first lap, and collapsed at the line in fourth place in 1:57.95.

After Sum's gold medal win, Kenya was in third place behind Russia and the US and all we were hoping was any other country to win one of the 4x100m relays and stop Jamaica from winning two other gold medals and making theirs six against the five we had collected. But, perhaps they also knew that they had to win the two medals, and they did it and ended up ahead of Kenya at the medal table. However, Kenya remained in third place in the total number of medals having collected a total of 12 medals. USA collected the highest number of medals totaling 25 while Russia was second with 17. Ethiopia followed Kenya with 10 medals while Jamaica completed the list of the top five with 7 medals.

While the Kenyan men had exhibited some of the surprisingly poor performances in the 800m and marathon events, their female counterparts had come up with some surprising victories as well to cover for that, notably in the 800m and in the steeplechase where Milcah Chemos won the first ever gold medal at the event for Kenya. Now that Kenyan women are beginning to dominate the world like their male counterparts, everything may look much better for Kenya in the next world event. A few things ought to be adjusted before then though. Athletics Kenya should find a way to cultivate interest in the best marathon runners in the country to want to represent the country at the world events. Also, long distance track athletes should hone their finishing skills. Another thing that I think should perhaps be considered are the trials to be conducted at lower altitudes, like in Mombasa or in Kisumu, because it appears the athletes who do well in high altitudes do not necessarily do well in lower altitudes.

Julius Yego is one athlete worth mentioning after he almost landed a medal for Kenya in the Javelin Throw. He had been in the bronze medal position before Russia's Dmitri Tarabin's final throw moved him to fourth position. He is a self disciplined, self coached and a hard working athlete who is so hungry to make history for Kenya in his event that I am almost certain that he will win a medal in the next championships.

All in all, it has really been another wonderful time here in Kenya watching the championships with neighbors seizing the opportunity to visit each other's houses after a long while, just in the name of coming to watch the championships. Some would bring with them their own seats, while others would stand against the wall after the few seats would have been occupied by the first ones to get into the house. In fact, I should now wind up this article and start returning some of the seats that were left by another neighbor in my house. It will be another very long time before I get such large number of visitors again in my house!
 

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