The medal sweep by the trio of Margaret Chelimo, Rosemary Wanjiru and Alice Aprot in 5,000metres invigorated athletics discipline that went on to redeem Team Kenya by winning nearly all the country’s medals in the just-ended 11th All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo.
Kenya finished 3rd overall with 23 medals- 6 gold, 9 silver and 8 bronze behind Nigeria and South Africa who emerged first and second with 38 (14 gold, 14 silver and 10 bronze) and 21(7 gold, 4 silver and 10 bronze) with athletics bringing in 5 gold, 9 silver and 5 bronze medals.
The 3 athletes made a good start for Team Kenya after comprehensively sweeping all the three podium slots in the 12 and half laps during day one of athletics competition, a move that distinguished the discipline as the main source of the nation’s medals in the continental championships.
The victory re-energized the team’s aspiration to go for more silver wares and it did not take long before the pair of Clement Kemboi and Hillary Kemboi surged the medal basket with the gold and silver after a 1-2 finish in men’s 3,000metres Steeplechase, a move that made Kenya entered the medal chart with 5 medals.
Chelimo and Clement’s exploits on the track sent positive signals Games commenced on September 3rd. They won in their respective races in 15:30.15 and 8:22.96.
Apart from the gold medalists, Kenya streamers also included Rosemary and Hillary who clinched two silver medals apart in 5,000 and 3,000m Steeplechase after finishing the runners up in the two events timing 15:30.18 and 8:22.98 during the 10th day of the championships and the first day of athletics competition programe.
However, the dream of Kenyans to claim all the medals in steeplechase as an emulation of what transpired in China last month went up in smoke after Abel Mutai, a former World championship Bronze medal winner, failed to react with the pace and ended up in a disappointing 8thposition (8:38.10), giving away the bronze medal to Ethiopia’s Haile Maryam.
The athletics team continued to fill the medal bag t during the third day on Tuesday when Grace Wanjiku hauled in the fourth team gold in the less fancied race walk. Wanjiku elevated her walking status from silver to gold after completing the body torturing 20Kilometres hip-and- knee twist.
But Kenyans missed the gold in the men’s replica by a whisker. Samuel Gathimba did manage silver after completing second in 1:26.42, an improvement from previous Africa rating in the walk.
Prior to the Tuesday call up, Leonard Barsoton had managed to win a silver medal in men’s 10,000metres on Monday after Tsebelu Zewude of Ethiopia denied Kenyans the much sought-after podium gravy.
Zewude out-paced Barsoton in the final homestretch and clocked 27:27.19. Borsoton trailed with 27:27.55 while national champion Vincent Yator and Geoffrey Korir finished 4th and 5th in 27:40.08 and 28:09.65 respectively.
The country’s sprinting ability continued to be exhibited at the Concorde Sports Complex when national sensation Eunice Kadogo finished runners up in 100metres Final. Annet Mwanzi added another silver medal in the bag in 800metres final.
More medals from athletics discipline came in during the last days of the championships when Alice Aprot, the winner of bronze in 5,000metres on day one, surprised all when she returned rejuvenated to win Kenya’s 5th gold medal in 10,000metres.
“I have never won a big title at any championships. I have run mainly in invitational meetings in Europe but this is special,” said an elated Aprot, a regular cross-country runner and a sibling to 2011 world cross-country champion Joseph Ebuya.
To crown it all, Kenya ended the championship in a dramatic style when the quartet of Robert Kibet, Alex Sampao, Kiprono Koskei and Boniface Mweresa sealed the gold medal line after winning the 4 X 400metres Relay in a new Africa record of 3:0.34 ahead of Bostwana who were second in a national record of 3:00.95.
Prior to the feat, the women team of Helen syombua, Annet Mwanzi, Winnie Chebet and Maureen Thomas had claimed a bronze medal in the 4X400metres relay.
Other final medals were from Thomas Longosiwa in men’s 5,000metres (Bronze), Beatrice Chepkoech (Bronze) in 1,500metres (Women) and Luka Kanda in men’s half-marathon.
Kenya women volleyball team and a Table Tennis are other disciplines that brought in medal with the latter beating all other nations in Volleyball to clinch gold.
Margaret Chelimo – 5,000metres (Women)
Clement Kemboi – 3,000metres S/Chase (Men)
Grace Wanjiru – 20Km Walk (Women)
Alice Aprot – 10,000metres (Women)
4 x 400metres Relay (Men)
Rosemary Wanjiru – 5,000metres (Women)
Hillary Kemboi – 3,000metres S/Chase (Men)
Leonard Barsoton – 10,000metres (Men)
Samuel Gathimba – 20Km Walk (Men)
Eunice Kadogo – 100metres (Women)
Annet Mwanzi – 800metres (Women)
Boniface Mweresa – 400metres (Men)
Gladys Chesir – 10,000metres (Women)
Luka Kanda – Half marathon (Men)
Alice Aprot- 5,000metres (Women)
Job Kinyor – 800metres (Men)
Purity Cherotich – 3,000metres S/Chase (Women)
Beatrice Chepkoech – 1,500metres (Women)
Thomas Longosiwa – 5,000metre (Men)
4 X 400metres Relays (Women)
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