The Women’s 10,000m, photo by PhotoRun.net
In this column, Justin Lagat wonders out loud if Kenya can keep their medal lead as the World Champs come to an end?
Will Kenya maintain the medal lead up to the end in Beijing? by Justin Lagat
No medal was added to the top raw of the table of medal standings today (August 27) in Beijing as none of the Kenyan athletes was participating in the finals on day 6 of the world championships.
However, a total of nine Kenyan athletes were advancing to the next level in their various events. Five women, one in the 800m and four in the 5000m, advanced to the finals while four men advanced to the semifinals in the 1500m.
With six gold medals so far for Kenya, only one is from a defending champion from Moscow; the one won by Ezekiel Kemboi in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. Other two gold medals were from two previous Daegu world champions; David Rudisha and Vivian Cheruiyot. Two other gold medals came from two events that Kenyans had never ever won before at the championships, they were won by Julius Yego and Nicholas Bett. One other gold medal came from one athlete who was sixth at the last world championships, Hyvin Kiyeng in the women’s 3000m steeplechase.
Out of the Kenyan athletes who are yet to run in Beijing, there are three defending champions; Asbel Kiprop in the men’s 1500m, Ednah Kiplagat in the women’s marathon and Eunice Sum in the women 800m. There are also other former world medalists who include Mercy Cherono, Silas Kiplagat and Isaiah Koech.
The world championships are not as guaranteed as they used to be when competitions were not as tough as they are now. All athletes these days prepare and do their research very well before the races and surprises and major disappointments do happen.
In 2013, Kenyans did not expect a medal in the women 800m event with only one athlete, then little known, Eunice Sum advancing to the finals. But, Sum had then surprised everyone by winning the world title and continuing to be on top of the world from then. The only surprise she can pull out this time round is that of not winning the gold medal.
Things look more promising for Kenyans in the men’s 1500m with all the four Kenyans proceeding to the semi-finals. Also, with Ayanleh Souleiman out in the heats, Kenyans in this event stand even much better chances to stage another great performance like that in the men’s 3000m steeplechase.
There is also another showdown between Mo Farah and the Kenyans in the 5000m event. Caleb Mwangangi will get another chance to run again against Farah after he had unfortunately fallen down with about one lap to go in a recent 5000m race in which the two had met. There will also strong Ethiopians in this race, as they are in the women’s event.
Ednah Kiplagat has always been relied upon by Kenyans to deliver a gold medal in the women’s marathon. In the company of compatriots Visiline Chepkesio, Hela Kiprop and Jemimah Sumgong, there is hope for a gold medal for Kenyans in this event too.