Kenya won no medals in the men’s 1,500 meters, one medal in women’s 800 meters and a javelin silver! Here is how Justin Lagat explains the strange night of Day Nine to our readers.
Silver medal for Julius Yego as Kenya miss medals in the men’s 1500m
Julius Yego continued to build his legendary profile tonight by throwing 88.24m to win a Silver medal in the men’s Javelin Throw. This was his first and only registered throw as he had to retire early because of an injury. No one could reach his mark in their first four attempts until finally on his second- last attempt, Thomas Rohler of Germany threw 90.30m to replace Yego on the gold medal position. 85.38m by Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago on his second attempt put him on the bronze medal position.
This was a very welcomed medal by Kenyan fans on the last day of track action in Rio after the highly anticipated medals in the men’s 1500m race could not be achieved.
Of all the gold medals that many Kenyan fans had counted before the start of the Rio Olympic Games, the men’s 1500m was perhaps the most assured. The three Kenyans in this race were the fastest this year looking at their seasonal best times on the start list. If one would fail to win the gold, then surely, another one would win.
Bad luck started to strike after all of them had qualified for the semi-finals when Elijah Manangoi picked up an injury and pictures of him in crutches appeared on social media. But, the chances for a gold medal for Kenya were still high with Asbel Kiprop and Ronald Kwemoi advancing to the finals, seemingly, effortlessly.
However, what just happened in the finals tonight was unbelievable as Asbel Kiprop finished 6th in a time of 3:50.87 while Ronald Kwemoi, who had fallen down at some point in the race, finished last in 3:56.76.
The race did not look like a typical 1500m race at all. It was more of a jog for the first 1000m which then built into a 300m dash for the podium positions. The very slow pace at the start resulted in so much pushing and jostling. Kiprop seemed to have seen the need to crank up the pace and moved to the front trying to persuade others to make it fast, but no one was willing to do the pacing and Kiprop also let himself be swallowed back into the huge pack.
At the bell, everyone was still in contention and looked strong. It was a full sprint from the last 300m and the medals were going to go to whoever had a strong finishing kick. Mathew Centrowitz was already at the front with 200m to go and kept the lead to the finish as others jostled for positions behind him. Centrowitz won the race in 3:50.00. Taoufik Makhloufi finished second in 3:50.11 and Nicholas Willis finished third in 3:50.24.
Kenya was able to bag a bronze medal in the women 800m through Margaret Nyairera who ran her personal best time of 1:56.89. Caster Semenya of South Africa had been unbeatable the whole of this year, and it was the same case here as she won the race in a new national record of 1:55.28. Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi finished second in 1:56.49.
One chance now remains for Kenya to finish second behind USA at the medal standings and that will be in the men’s marathon.