Jairus Birech, Jonathan Ndiku,
photo by Claus Andersen (Commonwealth Games 2014)
Justin Lagat is much happier today as his countrymen and women are taking medals in Marrakech. This is his column for day three.
Two gold medals for Kenya on the third day of African championships
Kenya finally gets two gold medals on the third day of the championships in Marrakech when everything was beginning to look like the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil where the Argentinian players were missing good chances to score goals and their fans were getting disappointed. Kenyan athletes missing the gold and silver medals in the women 5000m and the men’s 10,000m in Morocco was also like them kicking the ball outside the goal posts when the goal keeper was not keeping guard.
It was a great relief for Kenyan fans when Jairus Birech finally led Kenyans to a 1-2-3 finish in the men’s finals of the steeplechase event. Jairus won the race in 8:34.79, Jonathan Ndiku was second in 8:37.67 and Ezekiel Kemboi was third in 8:39.30. The steeplechase event has always been one event in which Kenyans excel the most on the global stage in the recent past and if there wasn’t going to be a gold medal here, then Kenyans would have had a real reason to believe that something was wrong with the squad send to represent the country at the African Championships.
Another bronze for Ezekiel Kemboi, photo by Claus Andersen
Jonathan Ndiku had won a gold medal for Kenya at the Commonwealth Games, but Jairus who had taken the silver at the same event was able to have his day here in Marrakech when he exchanged his Commonwealth position with Ndiku’s to win the gold medal here. Ezekiel Kemboi maintained his bronze medal position.
The second gold medal was from Hellen Obiri who recovered from her Glasgow disappointing 6th position to win a gold medal here in the women’s 1500m event. Faith Kibiegon, who had won gold at the Commonwealth Games, finished in fifth place. Obiri won the race in 4:09.53, Dawit Biratu of Ethiopia was second in 4:10.92 while Morocco’s Rahab Arafi was third in 4:12.08.
Isaac Makwala of Botswana won the men’s 400m even in 44.23, Wayde Van Niekerk from South Africa was second in 45.00 while Kenya’s Boniface Mucheru settled for the bronze medal in 45.07. There was no medal for Kenyans in the women’s event that was won by Nigeria’s Abugan Folashade who ran 51.21 followed by Mupoko Kabange of Zambia in 51.21 for second place and Okon Patience of Nigeria in 51.68 for third place. Maurine Jelagat of Kenya finished in 5th place.
Nicholas Bett also won a bronze medal for Kenya in the 400m hurdles by finishing in 49.03. It was a race that Cornel Fredericks of South Africa won in 48.78 followed by Nigeria’s Amaechi Morton in 48.92.
Nigerians dominated the women discus throw led by Okoro Chinwe followed by her compatriot Okwelogu Nwanneka before Elmouden Amina of Morocco settled for the bronze. But, Morocco won the women high jump through Siba Rhizlane as Mosaad Mohamed of Egypt won silver and Ethiopia’s Dibow Ubang won the bronze.
Kenya finished fourth in both the men and women 4x100m relays. They finished behind Nigeria, Ghana and Algeria in the men’s event and behind Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana in the women’s.
As feared in the men’s 800m, Nijel Amos of Botswana, Aman Mohammed of Ethiopia and Makhlouf Taoufik of Algeria won the podium positions respectively in the event. Two Kenyans; Ferguson Rotich and Evans Kipkorir finished in fourth and fifth places respectively.
There are two more championship days ahead and some more chances for Kenyans to harvest more medals in the remaining events.