African Athletics championships: Obiri strikes back as Amos beats Aman, by Evelyn Watta
Hellen Obiri’s decision to bypass the tedious team Kenya travel plan from Glasgow paid off as she outpaced the 1500m field with her blistering pace for the gold, as compatriot Jairus Birech also bounced back from the silver at the Commonwealth games to lead a sweep of medals in the men’s steeplechase.
It was also a good day out on the field for Commonwealth games champions Nijel Amos in the 800m and Eze Brume who led a 1-2 for Nigeria in the women’s long jump on the third day of competition at the African championships.
Obiri the world bronze medalist and indoor silver winner moved out to the outside lane, flying past Ethiopian Dawit Biratu for the gold in 4:09.53, rebounding after falling off the medal bracket in Glasgow.
“It was quite windy in the homestretch so I decided to move faster early because I don’t have a very strong kick in the 100m,”said Obiri, who left Glasgow and opted to train in London for a few days before coming to Marrakech three days before the championships, a choice that paid off as compatriots Faith Kipyegon faded to fifth in 4:13.46 as Selah Jepleting puffed home in eighth (4:19.24) barely recovered from the 36-hour travel holdup.
Biratu hang on for silver in 4:10.92 as Rahab Arafi won Morocco a bronze in 4:12.08.
Birech outsprinted compatriots Jonathan Ndiku the commonwealth games winner and double world and Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi who again settled for bronze in 8:34.79 in the sweaty scorching race.
Worried over a fast race that could drain them, the Kenyans broke out with four laps to go and sprinted past Kemboi in the final 300m.
“I am glad that my good form has won me a gold and I hope I can repeat that at the world cup and also win the diamond league,” said Birech, who has had stellar season and now tops the diamond race.
“My tendon is still bothering me since I picked the injury in May in Doha. Am glad to have wrapped my last race this season with a medal,” said Kemboi.
Amos does it again
Commonwealth games champion Nijel Amos mastered the heat with his usual prevailing kick as he snaked his way out of what would have been a tricky crammed home dash to win the men’s 800m in a slowed 1:48.54.
“I am not very happy with the time as I was hoping to do a 1:42 but the heat killed us. I will be coming back next month where am hoping for a better race,” offered Aman as he wiped a stream of sweat from his forehead.
Ethiopian Mohamed Aman closed in for the silver in 1:48.74 as Taoufik Makhloufi the Algerian winner in 2012, snatched the bronze in 1:49.08 just on the line from Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich(1:49.47).
Amos’ teammate Isaac Makwala a semi finalist at the Commonwealth games retained his continental title in the 400m in an African record of 44.23.
It was another good day in Marrakech for Nigeria, picking five gold medals with Chinwe Okoro setting a new championship mark of 59.79 in the women’s discuss as compatriot Nwanneka Okwelogu’s 51.07m throw earned her the silver.
Brume booked her continental cup slot with her 6.50m jump ahead of teammate Chinazom Amadi(6.40).
Blessing Okagbare collected her second championship gold as she anchored the Nigerian women’s 4 x100m locking out the Ivorian’s missing their star Muriel Ahouire.
Mark Jelks the silver winner in the 100m the previous day rounded it off with gold for Nigeria in the men’s relay.
1.Folashade Abugan NGR 51.21
2.Kabongo Mupopo ZAM 51.21
3.Patience George NGR 51.68
1. Isaac Makwala BOT 44.23 AR
2.Wayde Van Niekerk RSA 45.00
3. Boniface Mucheru KEN 45.07
1. Cornel Fredericks RSA 48.78
2.Amaechi Morton NGR 48.92
3. Nicholas Bett KEN 49.03
1. Nijel Amos BOT 1:48.54
2.Mohammed Aman ETH 1:48.74
3.Taoufik Makhloufi ALG 1:49.08
4. Fergusson Rotich KEN 1:49.10
5.Evans Kipkorir KEN 1:49.47
1.Hellen Obiri KEN 4:09.53
2.Dawit Biratu ETH 4:10.92
3.Rahab Arafi MAR 4:12.08
3000m SC men
1. Jairus Birech KEN 8:34.79
2.Jonathan Ndiku KEN 8:37.67
3. Ezekiel Kemboi KEN 8:39.30
1. Chinwe Okoro NGR 59.79m AR
2.Nwanneka Okwelogu NGR 51.07m
2.Amina Elmouden MAR 51.07m
Long Jump women
1. Ese Brume NGR 6.50m
2.Chinasom Amadi NGR 6.40m
3. Joelle Mbumi CMR 6.25m