Almaz Ayana, photo by PhotoRun.net
Almaz Ayana continues to impress. Remember, she was right there with Gezeba Dibaba in the fast Monaco 5,000 meters. Here, Justin Lagat wonders when Kenya will win it’s first gold medal of the African Athletics Championships.
Marrakech 2014 DAY 2: Kenyans still awaiting their first gold medal, by Justin Lagat
Kenyan athletes were paid back in exactly the same measure by their neighbors, the Ethiopians, in the women 5000m finals in Marrakech. Almaz Ayana won the gold medal in the event after running 15.51.72 followed by her compatriot, Genzebe Dibaba who ran 15.52.16. Janeth Kisa came third in 15.54.04 to secure a bronze medal for Kenya.
In Benin, it was Kenyans who had won gold and silver during the 2012 African championships and spared the bronze medal for the Ethiopians. The exact opposite just happened here in Marrakech. Mercy Cherono who had carried the hopes of many Kenyans for a gold medal in the event was only able to finish 5th behind another Kenyan, Margaret Wangare. A third Ethiopian, Kidsan Alema completed the first top six positions.
In the men’s discus throw finals, South Africans continued to establish a lead on the medal counts by winning gold and silver in the event. Victor Hogan won by throwing 62.87m followed by his countryman, Rusell Tucker in 62.15m. Nigeria’s Stephen Mozia threw 57.11m to settle for the bronze position.
As expected, Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria won gold in the women 100m finals and also set a new championship record of 11.00. Claude Muriel of Cote d’Ivoire won silver in 11:03while her compatriot, Marie Gonezie followed her to take the bronze medal in 11:20.
Wilfred Koffi Hua of Cote d’Ivore won the men’s version of the race in 10.05. Two Nigerian athletes, Mark Jelks and Edward Monzavous, followed him to take silver and bronze in 10.07 and 10.16 respectively.
The finals of the women 100m hurdles was won by South Africa’s Rikenette Steenkamp. Rosvita Okou Bodjiho of Cote d’Ivoire won silver while Nigeria’s Nichole Denby settled for the bronze medal.
By the end of the second day of the competitions in Marrakech, Kenyans were yet to win a gold medal, but the future is not bleak for them as many of their athletes on this day managed to sail through to the finals in a number of events.
Ferguson Rotich, Cornelius Kiplagat and Evans Kipkorir are already through to the finals in the men’s 800m event. But, it doesn’t look all that promising for them to deliver a gold medal given the fact that they will be up against Nijel Amos of Botswana, Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman and Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria in the finals.
Both Boniface Mucheru and Mark Mutai qualified for the finals in the men’s 400m, the event in which the new upstart, Isaac Makwala of Botswana is the favorite to win.
The women version of the race also has two Kenyan women, Maurine Jelagat and Jecinta Shikanda already through to the finals and with the absence of Amantle Montsho, who is being faced with a doping case, in this race, anything will happen. A gold medal for Kenya cannot be ruled out to come from this event.
Nicholas Bett was also able to make to the finals in the men’s 400m hurdles with the fastest time so far at the championships, 49.33. The question is whether he will be able to lead again during the finals.