Blessing Okagbare, photo by PhotoRun.net
The African Athletics Championships got off to a great start, with Eritrea upsetting the men’s field in the 10,000 meters. So, Justin Lagat, who had a tough time getting both results and info in Kenya from the Champs site, had this question; What happened to the Kenyan Men in the 10,000 meters? Surely, it did not have anything to do with the thirty-two hours they spent flying to Marrakech from Glasgow?
Day One, African Athletics Championships, by Justin Lagat
On the first day of the championships were three finals; the men’s 10,000m, the hammer women and the shot put men. The other events were the first rounds and semifinals while other events are yet to happen in the days to follow.
Eritrea won their first gold medal through Nguse Amlosom who ran 28:11.07 to win the 10,000m race followed by Moroccan Mustapha Elaziz in 28:11.3 and Kenya’s Josephat Bett who finished third in 28:11.61. Two Ethiopians, Adugna Tekele and Imane Merga followed in 4th and 5th positions before another Kenyan, Peter Kirui came in 6th. Olivier Irabaruta of Burundi finished in position seven while a third Kenyan, Charles Cheruiyot came in eighth.
At the last Benin championships in 2012, Kenyans had swept all the podium positions in this event, led by Keneth Kipkemoi who had run a championship record time of 27:19.74. Mark Kiptoo and Lewis Mosoti had taken the silver and bronze medals.It wasn’t such a good start for Kenyan athletes here as they now have the task of maintaining the other medals they won last time in other events and another gold and silver somewhere to replace the ones they have just lost in the men’s 10,000m event; that is, if they are to end up in the same 2nd overall position they were at the Benin championships.
So far, the South Africans have managed to maintain the same medals they won last time in Benin; a gold and a silver medal in the men’s shot put event. Orazio Cremona won the shot put finals by throwing 19.84m and his compatriot, Jacob Engelbrecht took silver after throwing 18.87m. Frank Owaka of Congo threw 18.74m to finish in 3rd place.
In the women hammer throw finals, Laetitia Bambara of Burkina Faso won the gold medal by throwing 65.44m, Amy of Senegal won silver after throwing 64.46m and Sara Ben Saad of Tunisia became third with 60.97m.
In other events, Mark Mutai and Boniface Muchiru sailed through to the semi-finals in the men’s 400m. Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare won a semi-final event in the women 100m while Tera Langat and Elijah Kimitei of Kenya also qualified for the finals in the men’s long jump event.
Kenyan athletes blamed the relatively poor performance in the 10,000m event on some travel hitches that saw them travel for entire 32 hours from Glasgow to Marrakech due to a failure by the relevant officials to make their travel arrangements on time. It will now remain to be seen whether in the next days, the rest of the Kenyan athletes will have recovered enough to do well in the remaining events.