NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s athletics team recently returned home
after dominating the Africa Athletics Championships in Asaba,
Nigeria, which ended under a cloud of poor organization.
Despite delays in
connecting to Asaba from Lagos and arriving just hours before
the start of the competition, Kenya braved all other challenges
to claim bragging rights as they took home titles to increase
their gold medal tally to 11, two more than their closest rivals
South Africa and Nigeria.
“We promised to
deliver medals and the team has just done that. With a small
squad of 63 athletes, getting the 19 medals is no mean feat,”
said head coach Stephen Mwaniki on Monday.
Kenyan medal winners
delivered their victories in an impressive fashion especially in
the women’s steeplechase where freshly-minted world record
holder Beatrice Chepkoech, clearly in the rarest of forms, led a
medal sweep for Kenya.
dominated the race en route to an 8:59.88 run, near the top of
the short list of fastest un-paced performances in history.
Celliphine Chespol was a distant second nearly 10 seconds back,
clocking a time of 9:09.61, with Fancy Cherono taking home the
“After the world
record in Monaco and now the African title, this will open many
doors for me,” said Chepkoech.
Indeed behind the
first door is a spot on Team Africa for next month’s IAAF
Continental Cup, which will be staged in Ostrava, the Czech
Republic on Sept. 18-19. Other teams will come from Europe,
America and Asia. Next came the men’s 5000m where it was Edward
Zakayo, the 16-year-old who emerged prominently after winning
the world junior title over the distance last month. Third at
the bell behind Yemane Haileselassie of Eritrea and Ethiopian
Getaneh Molla, Zakayo bolted off the final turn to finish
unchallenged, crossing the line with his tongue wagging and arms
spread wide with a time of 13:48.58.
Molla was second in
13:49.06 with Haileselassie third in 13:49.58 to capture one of
Eritrea’s two medals at these championships. “I used the
strategy to run with my competitors and maintain the pace, which
I did, and then to pull away,” Zakayo said.
Now what is next on
the teenager’s agenda? “I want to win the world championship in
Doha in 2019. But I must work even harder first.”
Kenya also scooped
gold in the men’s 1500m. The race was a tactical affair largely
driven by Kenyan aces Elijah Manangoi, the world champion, and
his training partner Timothy Cheruiyot, this year’s world leader
who has put together an unbeaten season on the IAAF Diamond