Caleb Ndiku, Commonwealth Games 5,000m, photo by Claus Andersen
The last day of the African Athletics Championships was a medal haul for Kenya. Justin Lagat wrote on the plethora of medals and wonders out loud about what Durban will bring in 2016!
Kenyan athletes hauled the largest collection of medals on the final day of the African athletics championships in Marrakech. The number of the medals on this final day was even higher than that of all the other medals the athletes had collected on the first four days of the championships, only that the South Africans and Nigerians had already collected much more gold medals on the first days and Kenyans could not manage to overtake them at the medal standings.
In the end, South Africa led at the medal table of the championships with 10 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze medals; Nigeria was second having won 8 gold, 9 silver and 7 bronze medals; Kenya ended up third with 7 gold, 8 silver and 10 bronze medals. The listing of these countries could easily be read upside down if the total number of medals were to be considered. Kenya collected a total of 25 medals, Nigeria 24 and South Africa 19.
The first gold medal for Kenya on this final day came from Grace Wanjiru who defended her title in the women 20km walk as her compatriot, Emily Ngii followed her to win a silver medal for Kenya as Askale Benti of Ethiopia took the bronze medal. Samuel Gathimba also won silver in the men’s event.
The greatest moment for the country came when Eunice Sum led Janeth Jepkosgei and Agatha Jeruto to a 1-2-3 podium sweep in the women 800m. Their times were 1:59.45, 1:59.74 and 1:59.84 respectively. Ethiopia’s Assefa Tigst led the other competitors who did not win medals in this event finishing 4thin 2:00.43.
It was the same scenario as it was at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the men’s 5000m race. Caleb Ndiku won the gold medal in 13:34.27, Isaiah Koech followed to take the silver medal and because there were no New Zealand athlete to win the bronze here, Osman Abrar of Eritrea acted that part as he finished in 13:36.42. Joseph Kitur then followed in fourth position, just like he had also done in Glasgow. The whole of this year, Caleb Ndiku has become a real force to be reckoned with in the 5000m and 3000m events.
In the men’s 1500m event, Kenyans were disappointed by Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman who won the event in 3:42.49. Asbel Kiprop won the silver medal in 3:42.58 followed by Ronald Kipkemboi to take the bronze medal. Many Kenyans were expecting another possible clean sweep by Kenyans in this event. The other Kenyan here, James Magut finished in 5thposition.
Julius Yego, who is one of the most celebrated athletes in Kenya right now, did not disappoint in the men’s javelin throw after throwing 84.72m to win the competition. Abdelrahaman Elsayed of Egypt won the bronze with an 83.59m throw while Oosthuizen Robert of South Africa threw 77.81m to settle for the bronze medal.
There was a real disappointment for Kenyans in the women 3000m steeplechase event when the best placed Kenyan was only able to finish 6th. Ayanleh Hiwot of Ethiopia won this event setting a new championship record of 9:29.54. She was followed by her compatriot, Assefa Sofia in 9:30.20 before Morocco’s Elouali Salima finished in 9:33.02 completing the podium places.
Kenya also won a silver medal in the women 4x400m event and bronze medals in men’s 4x400m, women’s 400m hurdles through Koki Francisca and in the men’s 200m finals through Nkanata Carmin.
The country had won 9 gold, 9 silver and 9 bronze medals at the Benin championships to finish 2nd behind Nigeria during the 2012 championships. South Africa had then finished in third place. With the three nations showing their class and rotating their positions at the top of the continent in athletics, one would wonder whether it won’t be Kenya’s time to top the continent at the next African championships in Durban 2016. Time will tell.