The last night of the World champs ended the nightmares that many Kenyan fans had been feeling over the past nine days. Justin Lagat writes about the final good day for Kenya, in his view from Kenya, his tenth column in ten days! We thank Justin for his great columns and views from his amazing country.
Two gold medals for Kenya through Hellen Obiri and Elijah Manangoi were won on the final day of the world championships.
Given the expected battle in the women 5000m race, it was one of the most anticipated races on the final day of the IAAF world championships.
Hellen Obiri hung on to Almaz Ayana throughout the women’s 5000m race, overtook and unleashed a strong finishing kick with 300m to go winning the race in 14:34.86. Ayana came second in 14:40.35 as Sifan Hassan came strongly to take third in 14:42.73.
It was obvious to see Obiri’s intentions from early in the race, even before the first lap was done. Just after the gun, she trailed the rest from behind. But, when Ayana made an attempt to move away at the front, she also quickly made a move and was soon behind Ayana who saw that and reduced the pace again. For a while, the pace was kept very slow before Ayana decided again to make a decisive to try and break away.
Soon, the field was disintegrated into three groups. Ayana and Obiri were in a leading pack of two at the front as they kept opening a huge gap on the rest. The chasing pack that were clearly battling for the bronze medal included Sifan Hassan, Senbere Teferi, Margaret Chelimo and Letesenbet Gidey and Sheila Chepkurui and there was also a third group, although the second and third groups were soon to get joined as the race lined them in a single file.
Ajee Wilson of the US clearly showed great determination in the women 800m as she led the field in the last lap, but her best could only land her on the bronze medal position as Caster Semenya powered home to win the race in a world leading time of 1:55.16 as Francine Niyonsaba followed in 1:55.65 to take silver. Wilson came third in 1:56.65.
The title in the men’s 1500m race was clearly going to go a Kenyan. The only question was who that was going to be.
From the start, it would seem as though the Kenyans had learned from the Rio Olympic race in which, despite having had the fastest times, none of them had won any medal. This time round, the three Kenyans moved to the front and made it a true 1500m race and not a slow jog followed by a 400m sprint.
With 150m to go, Asbel Kiprop began to fade and got swallowed by the chasers. At the front, Timothy Cheruiyot maintained a fast pace up to the last 50m when his compatriot, Elijah Manangoi over took and crossed the finish line first in 3:33.61 slightly ahead of Cheruiyot in 3:33.99. Filip Ingebrigtsen came in to take third in 3:34.53.
At the end of the day, Kenya had a total of 11 medals; 5 gold, 2 silver and four bronze medals. This placed Kenya in second position on the medal table behind the leader, USA and ahead of third place finisher, South Africa.