The most notable Kenyan performances at the 2018 Africa championships

2018 is turning out to be a succesful year for Kenya athletics After finishing atop the standings in the IAAF U20 championships,   Kenya was on top again, this time finishing atop the standings at the 2018 Africa athletics championships. Kenya’s performance was first class. It is difficult to pinpoint the best performance. So instead this article focuses on the most noteworthy performances.

Kenya’s successful contingent

Bronze for Kenya women’s 4 X 100m quartet

Perhaps the biggest highlight was the Kenya women’s 4 X 100m team. They won the bronze medal, finishing only behind Cote’d Ivoire team that boasted the world’s fastest woman Marie Jose Ta Lou and Nigeria who finished second. The Kenyan quartet of Eunice Kadogo, Millicent Ndoro, Joan Cherono and Frashia Mwangi showed excellent technical skills from start to finish from drive phase, efficient baton exchanges and  finally with all four digging deep to secure a medal for Kenya with a time of 45.58 . Frashia Mwangi ran a storming final leg fending off the South African runner.

The time is slower than the 44.75 that they accomplished at the 2015 All Africa games. Three of them with the exception of Cherono were in the team that finished fourth at the 2015 All Africa games, coming agonizingly close to winning a medal. They deserve to be rewarded.

Their performance brings back memories of the 1980s. In 1984 Kenya recorded its best ever performance in the 4 X 100m when the team led by Joyce Odhiambo won the gold medal. Odhiambo had bagged the silver in the 100m and held the Kenya record at 11.62 for nearly 28 years before Eunice Kadogo broke it in 2015.

Mathieu Sawe retains High Jump

Sawe was outstanding in an event that Kenya has never done well in. In 2016, Sawe became the first Kenyan to win a continental event in this event in 2016 with a jump of 2.21 metres. He went on to retain it with a jump of 2.30m which equals the Kenya national record. In the process he relegated the two South Africans to silver and bronze. The jump puts Sawe among the world’s top high jumpers in 2018 and should warrant an invite to a Diamond League meet.

Winny Chebet wins first ever gold medal

Winny Chebet has had an illustrious running career. She has represented Kenya for 12 years.  She started representing the country when she was 15, running in the world youth athletics championships where she won two silver medals. She has also run in numerous continental events but has never won individual gold. She had won medals in the 4 X 400m, which shows her incredible range / versatility. But she has never given up.

In fact the way she won the 1500m at the 2018 African championships showed her determination and refusal to give  up. In the last 100 metres, she had to dig deep to fend off the two experienced Moroccans (Rababe Arafi and Malika Akkaoui)  who were surging and gunning for the gold medal.  Both Moroccans are far more established in this event and have run in numerous Diamond League meets compared to Chebet who for most of her career has specialized in the 800m.

Samuel Gathimba: Kenya’s most important gold medal

Samuel Gathimba has had an illustrious race walking career. He won a silver medal at the 2014 African championships, another silver medal at the 2015 All Africa games, gold medal at the 2016 African championships and a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth games. However his gold medal at the 2018 African championships is perhaps the most important medal of his life.
His razor thin victory over South African Lebogang Shange was pivotal in enabling Kenya to finish atop the medal standings. Had Shange won, South Africa would have topped the standings and Kenya would have finished second. And Gathimba had to dig deep, winning in 1:25.13, only nine hundredths of a second ahead of Shange who clocked 1:25.24. A very narrow margin for the race walk.

It was tough race, but I had prepared well and had enough endurance to enable me win gold again. I trained in different climate back in kenya, so I was confident of doing well here in Nigeria” said Gathimba

4 X 400m quartet overcomes adversity to win

Kenya had to contend with the loss of experienced quarter-miler Boniface Mweresa who was sent packing from the tournament after he tested positive for a banned substance. But this did not stop Kenya as they not only won, but also won by a large margin and with a superb time of 3:00.92, much faster than has been recorded at this event lately. Kenya last won this event in 2010. After that, the team led by Mweresa had won the gold medal at the 2015 All Africa games, holding off the much fancied Botswana that had a sub 44.00 runner Isaac Makwala as its anchor.

What also made this win great was that Kenya stitched together a team that had a number of runners who do not specialize in the 400m. Haron Koech is a 400m hurdler, while anchor Emmanuel Korir is an 800m runner. The experienced Alphas Kishoyian ran a stormer, putting Kenya firmly in the lead, a lead they did not relinquish when he handed the baton to Jared Momanyi. By the anchor leg, Kenya was firmly in the lead.

Grace Wanjiru: Still going strong at 38

Grace Wanjiru Njue has won the African championships 20km race walk for women an incredible 6 times ! She has also won a gold medal at the All Africa games (in 2015). She also won a bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth games. This time she settled for silver after finishing second to Ethiopian Yehualiye Belew. It has been an illustrious career and knowing how determined Wanjiru is, we are certain that she will still come back strong for the 2019 All Africa games.

Other Medalists

The Kenyan women 4 X 400m quartet also shone on the final day, taking silver in 3:35.45 behind the Nigerians (3:31.19).

Edward Zakayo Pingua, fresh from his gold medal at the IAAF U 20 championships, won the men’s 5000m in 13:45.41.

Smooth running Beatrice Chepkoech, fresh from a world record breaking performance, led a Kenya sweep in the 3000m steeplechase. She won in 8:59.85 and was followed home by Fancy Cherotich and Cellphine Chespol.
“I promised my parents that I would go back with gold and I’ve done it,” she said.

In the javelin, Julius Yego who has had a slump in the past two years, reclaimed his javelin title with a second round throw of 77.34 metres with South Africa’s Philmar van Rensenburg (76.57m) taking silver and Nigeria’s Kure Adams (75.69) bronze. It was another important win over a South African that helped Kenya top the medal standings.

Hellen Obiri was peerless when she started Kenya’s gold medal hunt, blowing away the field to win in 15:47.17.
Stacey Ndiwa won the women’s 10,000m, finishing ahead of defending champion and compatriot Alice Aprot. The duo finished well ahead of the rest of the field. Ndiwa was elated.

“After the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, I felt that my speed wasn’t good enough and so I put in a lot of speedwork training in Iten and that’s why you saw me kick so well in the last 400 metres.” said Ndiwa.
In the men’s 1500m, Kenya went 1-2 as expected with Elijah Manangoi taking gold ahead of Timothy Cheruiyot. The latter has been dominant in the Diamond league this season and came in as the favourite.

Conseslus Kipruto continued Kenya’s dominance in the men’s 3000m steeplechase , beating the Morrocaan El Bakkali. Though Kenya has dominated this event in the past, it was not a certainty that Kipruto would win since El Bakkali beat him in their last Diamond League race in Monaco.

Medal Table

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  Kenya (KEN) 11 6 2 19
2  South Africa (RSA) 9 13 8 30
3  Nigeria (NGR) 9 5 5 19
4  Botswana (BOT) 2 1 0 3
5  Tunisia (TUN) 2 0 3 3
6  Algeria (ALG) 2 0 1 3
7  Egypt (EGY) 1 3 1 5
8  Morocco (MAR) 1 2 4 7
9  Ethiopia (ETH) 1 2 3 6
10  Ivory Coast (CIV) 1 2 2 5
11  Burkina Faso (BUR) 1 1 0 2
12  Ghana (GHA) 0 1 0 1
13  Uganda (UGA) 0 0 2 2
14  Congo (CGO) 0 0 1 1
 Liberia (LBR) 0 0 1 1
Total 28 28 28 84

List of Medalists

The gold medals were mined through Hellen Obiri (5,000m), Mathew Sawe (high jump), Julius Yego, (javelin), Conseslus Kipruto (steeplechase), Beatrice Chepkoech (steeplechase), 4x400m relay (men), Samuel Gathimba (walk), Elijah Manang’oi (1,500m), Edward Zakayo (5,000m), Winny Chebet (1,500m) and Stacey Ndiwa (10,000m).

The silvers were eked out by Alice Aprot (10,000m), Timothy Cheruiyot (1,500m), Emmanuel Korir (800m), Celliphine Chespol (steeplechase), 4x400m relay (women) and Grace Wanjiru (walk).
Bronze medals were in the 4x100m relay (women) and Fancy Cherotich (steeplechase)

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Kenya top the table at IAAF U20 Championships

Kenyan runners were in scintillating form at the 2018 IAAF U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland. Kenya finished atop the meda; standings with six gold medals.

Men’s 800m: Lekuta and Kipngetich go 1-2

Kenyan men have been dominating the 800m metres in the 2018 Diamond League. The Junior men followed suit at the IAAF U20 championships, thoroughly devastating the rest of the field and underlining Kenya’s dominance in this event.

1 457 Solomon Lekuta  KEN 1:46.35
2 454 Ngeno Kipngetich  KEN 1:46.45
3 153 Eliott Crestan  BEL 1:47.27
4 262 Adisu Girma  ETH 1:47.58
5 393 Simone Barontini  ITA 1:51.08
6 293 Alex Botterill  GBR 1:51.64
7 307 Markhim Lonsdale  GBR 1:57.39
102 Oussama Cherrad  ALG DQ

Men’s 1500m: Manangoi wins with a strong finish

George Manangoi, the younger brother to world championship silver medalist, Elijah Manangoi won the men’s 1500m with a strong finish. Ethiopian Samuel Tefera, who is world indoor champion and who also won the world U18 championships in Nairobi last year, was the hot favourite. With 300m to go, it looked like Tefera was going to run away with it. That was before Justus Soget of Kenya made his move with 250m to go. Soget has a superb personal best of 3:32.X and was Kenya’s main hope. However he too started to fade down the stretch. At the same time Manangoi who had looked out of sorts in the back straight, made his move and won with a strong finish. The highly touted Norwegian, Jakob Ingebrigtsen finished second, thus living up to his billing


1 458 George Meitamei Manangoi  KEN 3:41.71
2 503 Jakob Ingebrigtsen  NOR 3:41.89
3 462 Justus Soget  KEN 3:42.14
4 305 Jake Heyward  GBR 3:43.76
5 265 Samuel Tefera  ETH 3:43.91
6 563 Elzan Bibic  SRB 3:44.65
7 102 Oussama Cherrad  ALG 3:45.17
8 504 Sondre Juven  NOR 3:45.40
9 264 Birhanu Sorsa  ETH 3:45.47
10 658 Cooper Teare  USA 3:46.18
11 128 Callum Davies  AUS 3:46.35
12 498 Robin van Riel  NED 3:48.65


Chebet ends Ethiopian dominance.

Ethiopian women have dominated this event, winning it the last 5 times, often going 1-2 with Kenya typically settling for the bronze medal. However Beatrice Chebet seemed determined to break this mold. The leading pack of two Kenyans, two Ethiopians and a Ugandan stayed together until 300 metres were left when the pack was broken leaving Chebet and Ejgayehu Taye of Ethiopia to battle for gold. Taye led until 150m were left when Chebet made her move. But Taye would not easily give up the gold battling Chebet all the way to the end. All three medalists ran personal bests.

It was a coming out party for Chebet whose performance in international competitions had not been impressive this far. She finished 4th in the IAAF World U18 championships held in Nairobi and 10th in the African cross country championships.


1 1800 Beatrice Chebet  KEN 15:30.77 P
2 1655 Ejgayehu Taye  ETH 15:30.87
3 1650 Girmawit Gebrzihair  ETH 15:34.01
4 1929 Sarah Chelangat  UGA 15:43.01
5 1807 Hellen Ekarare Lobun  KEN 15:45.07
6 1625 Dolshi Tesfu  ERI 15:52.84
7 1795 Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu  JPN 15:55.74
8 1959 Cailie Logue  USA 15:56.00
9 1972 Emily Venters  USA 15:59.05
10 1592 Yanli Zhao  CHN 16:17.64
11 1574 Marie-Lyssa LaFontaine  CAN 16:36.43
12 1938 Bohdana Semyonova  UKR 16:45.45
13 1532 Clio Ozanne-Jaques  AUS 16:46.75
14 1792 Miku Moribayashi  JPN 17:08.55


3000m Steeplechase: Redemption for Chespol

Earlier this year, Cellphine Chespol was the hot favourite to win the gold medal at the Commonwealth games. However she and her team-mates must have under-rated the Jamaican Aisha Praught. The Jamaican ended up shocking the Kenyans by winning gold.

This time Chespol made no such mistakes. She was under no illusions because it was a strong field that included other Diamond League regulars like Kenyan born Bahraini Winfried Mutile Yavi and Ugandan Peruth Chemutai.

It was the Ugandan who led for most of the race with Chespol following close by to cover all her moves. Chespol finally made her move surging to the front with three laps to run and cranking the pace up further as she clicked through 2000m in 6:15.04.


1 1803 Celliphine Chepteek Chespol  KEN 9:12.78 CR
2 1931 Peruth Chemutai  UGA 9:18.87
3 1557 Winfred Mutile Yavi  BRN 9:23.47
4 1801 Mercy Chepkurui  KEN 9:43.65
5 1642 Agrie Belachew  ETH 9:44.79 SB
6 1654 Ethlemahu Sintayehu  ETH 9:50.96 PB
7 1952 Alice Hill  USA 9:57.04 PB
8 1709 Lisa Oed  GER 9:57.45 PB
9 1793 Manami Nishiyama  JPN 10:00.49
10 1948 Kristlin Gear  USA 10:00.99
11 1573 Grace Fetherstonhaugh  CAN 10:02.28
12 1926 Derya Kunur  TUR 10:03.46
13 1529 Montanna McAvoy  AUS 10:06.37
14 1715 Lisa Vogelgesang  GER 10:07.67
15 1525 Brielle Erbacher  AUS 10:16.84

5000m: A measure of revenge for Zakayo Pingua

Coming into this race, Solomon Barega was the firm favourite, He had beaten the Kenyan duo if Zakayo and Waithaka at the IAAF U18 championships in Nairobi. Also in the race was highly rated Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen who had already won a silver medal in the 1500m. Then there was the Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo who won the bronze medal in this same event in 2016 and won the junior race at the 2017 world cross country championships.

Barega was leading at the bell before Withaka made his move followed by Ingebrigtsen . Zakayo appeared out of the race at the back straight. But he turned on the jets with 50 metres to go and went from 4th place to 1st place.


1 464 Edward Zakayo Pingua KEN KEN 13:20.16
2 463 Stanley Waithaka Mburu KEN KEN 13:20.57
3 503 Jakob Ingebrigtsen NOR NOR 13:20.78 AU20R
4 257 Selemon Barega ETH ETH 13:21.16
5 259 Telahun Haile Bekele ETH ETH 13:23.24
6 626 Jacob Kiplimo UGA UGA 13:23.35
7 621 Oscar Chelimo UGA UGA 14:00.68
8 563 Elzan Bibic SRB SRB 14:15.37
9 225 Kokob Ghebru ERI ERI 14:23.49
10 658 Cooper Teare USA USA 14:24.30
11 502 Simen Halle Haugen NOR NOR 14:25.37
12 234 Aarón Las Heras ESP ESP 14:30.09
13 327 Mohamed Mohumed GER GER 14:30.81
14 545 Adrian Garcea ROU ROU 14:33.21 PB
15 218 Idleh Aden DJI DJI 14:33.35 PB

10,000m: Rhonex Kipruto in a class of his own

Rhonex Kiprono had no challengers in this race. He ran most of the second half of the race on his own. In the process he ended up finishing 19 seconds ahead of his closest competitor. He clocked 13:23.86 for the final 5000m which is an impressive time. In fact would have powered him to victory in all but four of the 16 previous 5000m title races contested at these championships. He also set a new personal best by 29 seconds and broke the previous championship record by almost 5 seconds.

1 455 Rhonex Kipruto  KEN 27:21.08
2 626 Jacob Kiplimo  UGA 27:40.36
3 255 Berihu Aregawi  ETH 27:48.41
4 452 Solomon Kiplimo Boit  KEN 27:57.44
5 253 Olika Adugna  ETH 28:39.67
6 625 Victor Kiplangat  UGA 28:42.77
7 225 Kokob Ghebru  ERI 28:59.31
8 226 Robel Sibhatu  ERI 29:44.59
9 445 Takuro Miura  JPN 30:12.25
10 100 Saber Abed  ALG 30:14.82
11 390 Eshetu Worku  ISR 30:28.25
12 376 Kartik Kumar  IND 30:30.28
13 358 István Palkovits  HUN 30:35.87
14 202 Walter Alfonso Martín López  COL 30:46.37
15 239 Eduardo Menacho  ESP 30:52.26


Other Kenyan performances

In the women’s 400m, Mary Moraa won her opening heat in a personal best of 52.85. In the semi-finals, she finished second in 52.98 which enabled her to reach the finals. In the final, she clocked 52.98 to finish in  5th position. It was a creditable performance in an event that Kenyan women rarely participate in. Moraa has a bright future and a strong candidate to win gold at the next All Africa games.

Other Kenyan medalists were Miriam Cherop who won silver in the women’s 1500m. Leonard Bett won the silver medal in the men’s 3000m steeplechase.

Final Medal Table

Rank Country Total
1  KENYA 6 4 1 11
2  JAMAICA 4 5 3 12
3  UNITED STATES 3 8 7 18
4  ETHIOPIA 3 2 4 9
5  GREAT BRITAIN & N.I. 3 1 3 7
6  SOUTH AFRICA 3 0 1 4
7  AUSTRALIA 2 3 0 5
8  JAPAN 2 2 2 6
9  GERMANY 2 0 2 4
10  MEXICO 2 0 0 2
11  CUBA 1 1 3 5
12  UKRAINE 1 1 1 3
13  BELARUS 1 1 0 2
13  PR OF CHINA 1 1 0 2
13  SWEDEN 1 1 0 2
16  BELGIUM 1 0 1 2
16  GREECE 1 0 1 2
18  INDIA 1 0 0 1
18  CZECH REPUBLIC 1 0 0 1
18  CANADA 1 0 0 1
18  MOLDOVA 1 0 0 1
18  NEW ZEALAND 1 0 0 1
18  BULGARIA 1 0 0 1
18  ITALY 1 0 0 1
18  INDONESIA 1 0 0 1
26  IRELAND 0 2 0 2
26  UGANDA 0 2 0 2
28  FRANCE 0 1 2 3
29  NORWAY 0 1 1 2
29  ECUADOR 0 1 1 2
29  BRAZIL 0 1 1 2
32  FINLAND 0 1 0 1
32  TURKEY 0 1 0 1
32  ROMANIA 0 1 0 1
32  QATAR 0 1 0 1
32  AUSTRIA 0 1 0 1
37  SWITZERLAND 0 0 4 4
38  POLAND 0 0 2 2
39  COLOMBIA 0 0 1 1
39  GUATEMALA 0 0 1 1
39  BAHRAIN 0 0 1 1
39  NETHERLANDS 0 0 1 1
39  CHILE 0 0 1 1


Mens 800m

Men’s 1500m


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Kenya failed to host CHAN yet MPs went joyriding to the world cup

Senator Millicent Omanga at the world cup

Twenty Kenyan MPs and Senators traveled to Russia to watch the world cup. The trip was fully funded by the Kenyan tax payer. Everything from airline tickets to accomodation, match tickets, food and a hefty daily allowance was paid of by the tax payer. This according an exposee in the Star newspaper.

Among the MPs who traveled are Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town) who chairs the Sports committee, Wafula Wamunyinyi ( Kanduyi), Sylvanus Maritim (Ainamoi), Cleopha Malala ( Kakamega), Aaron Cheruyiot ( Kericho) and Judy Pareno and Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town).

Senators were to be led by Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi) but he cancelled his travel to deal with other issues affecting Nairobi.

Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye who is also the CEO of the Parliamentary Service Commission that determines the responsibilities and remuneration of legislators, defended the trip as official benchmarking to give MPs first-hand experience on how to host international tournaments.

“It is their responsibility to understand sports, how to host such international tournaments. This is not a holiday and it is too simplistic to look at it as a joyrider mission,” Nyengenye said

According to the Star newspaper, the trip will cost the Kenyan taxpayer US$ 450,000 (Ksh 45 million).

All this at a time when Kenya was unable to host the CHAN tournament because the Confederation of African football deemed Kenyan stadia inadequate.

Not only that but Kenyan clubs like Gor Mahia often have to foot their own bills when they travel to represent Kenya. And national teams such as the Kenya women’s basketball teams have in the past been forced to travel to distant venues such as Kigali, Rwanda by road.

And to cap it all off, Kenya is unlikely to qualify for the world cup anytime soon because the government has not seen it fit to set up football academies to tap young talent and train them.


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Rotich, Chepkoech and Cheruiyot brilliant in Paris

A trio of Kenyans recorded brilliant wins as Beatrice Chepkoech and Timothy Cheruiyot recorded world leading times while Ferguson Rotich also recorded a brilliant win against an impressive field.

Ferguson Rotich leaves it late but wins

Ferguson Rotich is having the best season of his career. After finishing second behind Wycliffe Kinyamal in his last Diamond League race, Rotich finally recorded his first diamond league win of 2018. And he did it by coming from dead last with 300m to go, to win at the finish line.

Compatriot Jonathan Kitilit appeared to be running away with race, opening up a wide lead with 200m to go. But Rotich made his surge and passed every single person in the race to win in 1:43.73, the third fastest time of the season.

Even without Rudisha, Kenyans have thoroughly dominated the 800m in 2018: Michael Saruni, Jonathan Kitilit, Wycliffe Kinyamal and Alfred Kipketer own the nine fastest times of 2018.


1 Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich  KEN 1:43.73
2 Jonathan Kitilit  KEN 1:43.83
3 Saúl Ordóñez ESP 1:44.36
4 Isaiah Harris USA 1:44.42
5 Alfred Kipketer  KEN 1:44.62
6 Joseph Deng  AUS 1:44.67
7 Pierre-Ambroise Bosse  FRA 1:45.19
8 Erik Sowinski  USA 1:45.34
9 Thiago do Rosário André  BRA 1:45.59
10 Peter Bol  AUS 1:45.82
11 Marc Reuther  GER 1:46.06
Jackson Mumbwa Kivuva  KEN DNF

Race Video

Cheruiyot still invincible

Not only has Timothy Cheruiyot won every single race that he has tried this season. This race was no different. Facing a strong field that included sub 3:30 performers like Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti, Cheruiyot was undeterred. He took his place behind the two pacemakers. When the pacemakers peeled off, Cheruiyot shifted to fifth gear and shook off the rest of the field, leaving a huge gap between himself and second placed Souleiman. He won in 3:29.71, a world leading time and very close to his personal best of 3:29.10, set in 2017.


1 Timothy Cheruiyot  KEN 3:29.71 8
2 Ayanleh Souleiman  DJI 3:31.77 7
3 Charles Cheboi Simotwo  KEN 3:32.61 6
4 Aman Wote  ETH 3:32.81 5
5 Jakub Holuša  CZE 3:32.85 4
6 Filip Ingebrigtsen NOR 3:32.87 3
7 Bethwell Birgen KEN 3:34.27 2
8 Sadik Mikhou BRN 3:34.55 1

Race Video

Beatrice Chepkoech with a world leading time

It was a brilliant and commanding run by Beatrice Chepkoech to win the women’s 3000m steeplechase with a world leading time of 8:59.36. It was also a personal best for Chepkoech. And it was thanks largely to brilliant pacemaking by Ann Gathoni and former world junior champion Caroline Tuigong.

In the process, Chepkoech also beat Celliphine Chespol who owns the second fastest time in history and Hyvin Kiyeng who had been unbeaten in 2018. Kenyans were thoroughly dominant, occuppying all the top positions while surprise Commonwealth games champion Aisha Praught was 8th.


1 Beatrice Chepkoech  KEN 8:59.36 8
2 Celliphine Chepteek Chespol  KEN 9:01.82 7
3 Hyvin Kiyeng  KEN 9:03.86 6
4 Norah Jeruto  KEN 9:04.17 5
5 Winfred Mutile Yavi  BRN 9:12.74 4
6 Roseline Chepngetich  KEN 9:17.08 3
7 Daisy Jepkemei  KEN 9:17.35 2
8 Aisha Praught  JAM 9:20.89 1
9 Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal  NOR 9:28.50
10 Fabienne Schlumpf  SUI 9:39.89
11 Elena Burkard  GER 9:40.18

Race Video

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Dear Nick Mwendwa, Kenya can qualify for 2026 World Cup

The 2026 world cup will feature 48 teams, up from the 32 that are playing in the 2018 and 2022 world cups. The allocation has not been finalized. But the projection is that Africa will have 9 slots, up from the current 5.
This gives a country like Kenya a good chance at qualifying for the 2026 event.

Of course some will immediately dismiss this as bluster given that Kenya has consistently failed to qualify for the Africa nations cup which has 16 teams.

However all that is needed is a long term plan that will put Kenya among Africa’s top 9 teams by 2026. Keep in mind that during the 1980s, which can be considered as Kenya’s best years in football, Kenya qualified for the Africa Nations cup three times in a row (1988, 1990 and 1992). And this was a time when only 8 teams qualified. This means that for the period between the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kenya was consistently among the top 8 teams in the continent.

If Kenya could be among the top 8 African teams for a consistent period back then there is no reason why they cannot grab one of Africa’s 9 slots at the 2026 tournament.

In addition, Kenya reached the final of the 1987 All Africa games. And this was during a period when teams sent their best players to the All Africa games. Among the teams that competed at this event were Tunisia, Cameroun, Ivory Coast and Senegal. Kenya beat Tunisia 1-0 in the opener, forced a 3-3 draw against Cameroun and lost narrowly to Egypt in the final. The gap between these teams and Kenya has increased significantly since then.

Also, the 1980s was the period when Kenya thoroughly dominated the CECAFA region. And this was during a time when Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe were permanent CECAFA members. Kenya win the CECAFA senior challenge cup three times in a row, beating host hosts Tanzania in the 1981 final, beating hosts Uganda in the 1982 final and winning the 1983 event at home.

At the club level, Kenyan teams dominated the CECAFA club championships winning 11 of 14 tournaments between 1976 and 1989, with AFC Leopards winning 5 tournaments, Tusker winning 3, Gor Mahia winning 3 and Luo Union winning 2. At the continental level, AFC Leopards reached the Africa cup semis in 1986, Gor Mahia won the Africa cup in 1987 and Tusker reached the finals in 1994.

Why was Kenya’s performance so much better in the 1980s and early 1990s?

The Olympic Youth centres founded by Bernard Zgoll

Coach Zgoll is pictured here when he returned to Kenya for a visit in 1989

Kenya’s relative success during this period was due to the Olympic youth centres created by German coach Bernard Zgoll. These centres produced most of Kenyas top players during this period including players like Wilberforce Mulamba, Ambrose Ayoyi, Bobby Ogolla, Sammy Taabu, Hussein Kheri, Josephat Murila, Austin Oduor and Mahmoud Abbas.

The centres were introduced during the time when Kenneth Matiba was KFF Chairman. In his book, Aiming High: The Story of My Life, Matiba writes:

“My concern also centred around a major weakness which is always found among people who lack foresight or are unable to think ahead. Until my federation took action, there was no systematic training of young players for the future. To deal with the problem, I asked the German Government to assist us with a coach who would organize youth teams for training players of tomorrow.

“The German Government gave us Bernhard Zgoll as a coach for the youth and also agreed to fund the programme.

“Olympic Youth Centres were, therefore, established at Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru and others were planned elsewhere.

“Boys aged 12 and 15 years were recruited and received training under Zgoll and his assistant, Jonathan Niva and other coaches he had selected in every town.

“The program had become very successful by the time I ceased to be chairman of KFF and indeed its products formed the backbone of soccer in the years that followed.”

Not less than 80 per cent of the players who won back-to-back East and Central Africa Challenge Cup titles in 1981, 1982 and 1983 were products of these centres.

The same players ensured that for 10 years between 1977 and 1987, the East and Central Africa Club was won by Kenyan clubs save for one year.

Many of the same players helped Kenya qualify for three consecutive Africa cup of Nations.

Lesson for today

The 2026 world cup is 8 years away. The players who could play in this tournament are now between ages 13 and 18. If Kenya were to re-establish centres where youth receive structured development, we could produce a generation of players who could propel Kenya to the 2026 world cup.

Ideally there should be centres in all the counties that typically produce good footballers. Nairobi should have at least three such centres. Counties that typically  produce footballers like Mombasa Kisumu, Kakamega etc should also have such centres manned by qualified youth coaches who can identify the best local youths and drill them with the aim of producing.

To his credit, Nick Mwendwa has taken youth development far more seriously than any other FKF chair. U15 sides like this one should be replicated in at least 20 counties across Kenya.


Such forward planning is what will be needed to enable Kenya to make the giant leap to the 2026 world cup.

KFF chairman Nick Mwendwa and the people in charge of football have an opportunity to create a legacy like Kenneth Matiba did in the 1970s. Will Mwendwa they seize this opportunity?


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Momentous win for Kenya Rugby over Morocco

Kenya skipper Davis Chenge and Morocco skipper Hocine Arabat

Kenya’s 28 -24 victory over Morocco in Casablanca on Saturday June 23 2018, is one of the biggest wins in the country’s rugby history.
For starters, Morocco has for decades towered over Kenya rugby. In fact Kenya has lost the last time Kenya played Morocco in Casablanca was in 2009 and Kenya lost 29-11. The previous encounter in Casablanca was also a resounding win for Morocco : by a score of 29-3. In between those two meetings Kenya had surprised Morocco beating 23-16 in Kampala.

Having ensured severe beatings the last time the two sides met in Casablanca, it would not have come as a shock if Kenya had lost again. The fact that Kenya was able to beat the Moroccans in front of their own fans shows how much progress Kenya has made in the past 10 years.

Secondly, the entire Moroccan team comprises players who live and play in France. Most play in the French third tier (Federale 1) while a handful play in the French second tier (Pro 2). Both are professional leagues. This is a starke contrast to Kenya players who all play amateaur rugby

These are players who were born in France, learned their rugby in France and have lived there and played rugby there under some of the best coaches, best facilities and best financed players. Once again this is atarke contrast to Kenya players who had very little rugby instruction during their formative years and play with below par facilities.

Match Report

 Kenyans utilized their speed to open the scoring on a nice backline move. The Moroccans responded with a refocused game on the fundamentals using their heavy pack to dominate the scrums and mauls and forcing mistakes from Kenya. .

However, as soon as the game picked up, and hand mistakes were fewer, Kenya became much more dangerous.

Moroccans will regret the points they left on the road during this first half. At the break, Morocco led 10 – 7.

The second half resumes on the same false rhythm of the first half with always a fight of all the moments in the phases of contact.

The Moroccans then scored again a try in strength following a scrum 10 meters from the goal line of Kenya. and Morocco led 17-7 and looked to be running away with the game.

Kenya then scored two lightning quick tries. The second was by Moses Amusala who completed Kenya’s pick-and-drive move and suddenly Kenya lead 21-17 in the 57th minute. Darwin Mukidza was sharp with his boot, converting all tries.

The intensity of the fight increases again and the contacts become very rough. If in the first half the locals dominated the scrums, in the 2nd half it is clearly the players from East Africa who take the ascendancy.

Samson Onsomu then collected the ball from the back of their maul to put through Tony Onyango on the wing to score their fourth try. Mukidza once again converted from a tight angle to stretch their lead to 28-17 before the Moroccans rallied to score and come within four points.

In the last 10 minutes, Morocco scores the test of hope, and the end of the match becomes stifling. Morocco progresses, but scarcely fails to register the try of the victory.

In the end, Kenya narrowly escaped a crushing defeat against brave Moroccans who fought with their weapons. The fight during this match left traces on the organizations of the two teams who played the last moments of the match to the mind more than on the physical. Kenya had to  put up a tight defence to triumph for the crucial five points even as Edmund Anya was sin-binned for collapsing the maul.

At the final whistle, the Kenyans showed a measured joy, as their victory, although deserved, was difficult to conquer.

At the end of the match, Kenya captain Chenge Davis Musungu said he was relieved: “It was a difficult match, the Moroccans hooked us a lot and the fight was intense.” We made a lot of mistakes because Morocco put pressure on us. “

“We have to correct these mistakes if we want to go to Japan next year,” added the Kenyan team captain.

Hocine Arabat, captain of the Atlas Lions, who was aware of being close to the feat said: “We always need a winner and a loser, today we lost on details. But at the highest level, it’s the details that matter. We must now focus on the future and turn to the next game. “

“What an exciting match to finish this second day of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup! I am really satisfied with the performance of both teams, the quality of the welcome and the enthusiasm of the fans! African rugby is definitely growing, “said Abdelaziz Bougja, president of the World Rugby Africa Association, Rugby Africa (

For Morocco, we will have to very quickly put this encouraging defeat behind them to prepare the shock of June 30 at home against Namibia.

For Kenya, it will be well recovered before facing Nairobi next weekend Zimbabwe.

“I think the match between Namibia and Morocco on June 30 is going to be really interesting,” said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, the founder and CEO of APO Group, the main official partner of Rugby Africa.


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Kiyeng, Manangoi, Kiptarus brilliant at Oslo Bislett games

Former steeplechase world champion, Hyvin Kiyeng, is proving to be the person to beat in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. After winning the Rome Golden gala, she was once again victorious at Oslo. But this time she had to fend off a strong challenge from American Emma Coburn who is also the Olympic champion.

Coburn led for much of the race before Kiyeng took over in the last lap. She tried to shake off Coburn. But the American made a spirited comeback after he last hurdle. But it was not enough to catch Kiyeng.  Daisy Chepkemei finished a creditable third ahead of Olympic silver medalist Courtney Frerichs of the USA.

It was a big win for Kiyeng. At the 2017 world championships, she lost to both Coburn and Freichs and ended up settling for bronze. The race was a disaster from an organization persspective as one of the barriers was set to high causing the runners to run the first two laps with a higher hurdle. In the process, Commonwealth games champion Aisha Praught ran into the barrier.

Race results

1 Hyvin Kiyeng  KEN 9:09.63 8
2 Emma Coburn  USA 9:09.70 7
3 Daisy Jepkemei  KEN 9:16.87 6
4 Courtney Frerichs  USA 9:20.84 5
5 Aisha Praught  JAM 9:23.33 4
6 Winfred Mutile Yavi  BRN 9:27.76 3
7 Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal  NOR 9:29.94 2
8 Purity Kirui  KEN 9:39.23 1
9 Rosie Clarke  GBR 9:42.80
10 Birtukan Adamu  ETH 9:58.48
Ann Gathoni  KEN DNF
Caroline Tuigong  KEN DNF

Race Video

Manangoi wins Oslo Mile

World champion, Elijah Manngoi shrugged off a dissapointing season to win the men’s mile albeit in a slowish time of 3:56.95. In the process, Manangoi had to fend off a late challenge from Sadik Mikhou who came back strongly in the final 100 metres.
It was welcome win for Manangoi, the current world champion. He had yet to win a race in the 2018 Diamond League, having finished second and third respectively.

Race Video

Race Results

1 Elijah Motonei Manangoi  KEN 3:56.95 8
2 Sadik Mikhou  BRN 3:57.10 7
3 Taresa Tolosa  ETH 3:57.92 6
4 Filip Ingebrigtsen  NOR 3:57.97 5
5 Younéss Essalhi  MAR 3:58.00 4
6 Henrik Ingebrigtsen  NOR 3:58.46 3
7 Ryan Gregson  AUS 3:58.47 2
8 Bethwell Birgen  KEN 3:59.10 1

Kiptarus wins 10,000m

Dominic Kiptarus, won the men’s 10,000m , a race that is rarely contested in the Diamond League

1 Dominic Chemut Kiptarus  KEN 28:05.34
2 Stewart McSweyn  AUS 28:05.37
3 Julien Wanders  SUI 28:07.15
4 Zouhair Talbi  MAR 28:31.73
5 Sondre Nordstad Moen  NOR 28:37.92
6 Marius Vedvik  NOR 29:13.27
7 Weldu Negash  NOR 29:21.23
Arne Gabius  GER DNF
Daniele Meucci  ITA DNF
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Rotich with commanding win in Stockholm

Ferguson Rotich is on the comeback trail. After a disappointing couple of seasons, he is rising to elite status. After finishing second at the PreFontaine classic, Rotich won the men’s 1000m at the Bauhaus-Galan Diamond League meet.

The men’s 1000m, an event that counts towards the 800m for the Diamond League standings, and Rotich took maximum points. He finished well ahead of the field, taking over in the final 200 metres to win in 2:14.88, well clear of Bahrain’s Sadik Mikhou (2:16.09) and Britain’s Jake Wightman (2:16.27).

He was the only Kenyan to win in Stockholm.

Race Results

1 Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich  KEN 2:14.88 8
2 Sadik Mikhou  BRN 2:16.09 7
3 Jake Wightman  GBR 2:16.27 6
4 Adam Kszczot  PL 2:16.58 5
5 Antoine Gakeme  BDI 2:16.85 4
6 Kipyegon Bett  KEN 2:16.98 3
7 Andrew Osagie  GBR 2:17.18 2
8 Alfred Kipketer  KEN 2:17.40 1

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Kinyamal, Kiyeng, Cheruiyot triumphant in Rome

Three Kenyans were among the winners of the 2018 Rome golden gala at the Olympic stadium in Rome on Friday May 31. The meet is part of the Diamond League. Two of the Kenyans recorded world leading times.

Kiyeng returns to form

2015 world champion, Hyvin Kiyeng, is on her way back to the summit of the women’s 3000m steeplechase. She proved this by winning the race in 9:04.96, a world leading time. 19 year old compatriot Cellphine Chespol was second. It was a dramatic race in which Kiyeng, Chespol and American Emma Coburn were neck and neck at the last water jump. Coburn then slipped and almost fell.In the process she lost her steam and Norah Jeruto also passed her, thus assuring a Kenya 1-2-3 finish.

Beatrice Chepkoech who won at the Pre-Fontaine classc was 5th. Surprise Commonwealth games gold medalist, Aisha Praught of Jamaica was 8th.

Race Video


1 Hyvin Kiyeng KEN 9:04.96 8
2 Celliphine Chepteek Chespol KEN 9:05.14 7
3 Norah Jeruto KEN 9:07.17 6
4 Emma Coburn 9:08.13 5
5 Beatrice Chepkoech KEN 9:15.85 4
6 Winfred Mutile Yavi BRN 9:16.36 3
7 Daisy Jepkemei  KEN 9:18.44 2
8 Aisha Praught JAM 9:19.33 1
9 Luiza Gega ALB 9:22.00
10 Habiba Ghribi TUN 9:31.36
11 Purity Kirui KEN 9:31.96
12 Rosie Clarke GBR 9:32.08
13 Ophélie Claude-Boxberger FRA 9:34.43
14 Gesa Felicitas Krause GER 9:39.52
15 Tugba Güvenc TUR 9:39.68
16 María José Pérez ESP 9:43.48
17 Irene Sánchez-Escribano ESP 9:44.48
18 Fadwa Sidi Madane MAR 9:46.10
19 Birtukan Adamu ETH 9:55.77


Kinyamal wins with late surge

Wycliff Kinyamal, Kenya’s new 800m sensation, won his second ever Diamond League race. It took another late surge to win with Kinyamal taking over the lead from compatriot Jonathan Kitilit with 20 metres to go. Kitilit had a significant lead with 100m to go before Kinyamal started to narrow the lead.

Ferguson Rotich, another runner known for late surges, ran down Kitilit and passed him at the finish line to finish second. Kitilit finished 3rd for a Kenya 1-2-3

Race Video


1 Wyclife Kinyamal  KEN 1:44.65 8
2 Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich  KEN 1:44.74 7
3 Jonathan Kitilit  KEN 1:44.78 6
4 Brandon McBride  CAN 1:44.99 5
5 Amel Tuka  BIH 1:45.68 4
6 Álvaro De Arriba  ESP 1:46.16 3
7 Adam Kszczot  POL 1:46.23 2
8 Kipyegon Bett  KEN 1:46.93 1


Cheruiyot with another masterful display

In the 1500m, Timothy Cheruiyot appears invincible in 2018. It is largely due to his new tactic of attacking accelerating with 400m to go, to take advantage of his superior endurance. In the past, he tried to win the race in the last 100m, something which played into the hands of Elijah Manangoi who has a superior finishing kick.

In this race, Cheruiyot left the rest of the field for dead with 400m to go. Manangoi finished second ahead of Ethiopian Samuel Tefera who was 3rd. Ayanleh Souleiman who has been a major challenger in past years, appears far from his best this season. He finished a distant 4th.

Race Video


1 Timothy Cheruiyot  KEN 3:31.22 8
2 Elijah Motonei Manangoi  KEN 3:33.79 7
3 Samuel Tefera  ETH 3:34.84 6
4 Ayanleh Souleiman  DJI 3:34.87 5
5 Charles Cheboi Simotwo  KEN 3:35.03 4
6 Charles Da’Vall Grice  GBR 3:35.72 3
7 Taresa Tolosa  ETH 3:36.22 2
8 Aman Wote  ETH 3:36.30 1
9 Chris O’Hare  GBR 3:36.47
10 Mohad Abdikadar Sheik Ali  ITA 3:36.54
11 Yemaneberhan Crippa  ITA 3:38.22
12 Ryan Gregson  AUS 3:38.85
13 Adel Mechaal  ESP 3:39.14
14 George Meitamei Manangoi  KEN 3:41.75
15 Silas Kiplagat  KEN 3:41.78

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Kenya women’s rugby 7s win Africa cup outscoring opponents 181-12

Kenya players celebrate after winning the 2018 Africa rugby sevens tournament. Kenya’s first ever cup

The Kenya women’s national rugby sevens team, won the 2018 Africa cup. It marked the first time Kenya won this tournament after being losing finalists four times. The tournament was held in Gaborone Botswana during the weekend of May 26 to May 27. Kenya won in Grand Style outscoring opponents 181 points to 12.

Kenya were peerless throughout, overwhelming opponents with both basic execution and spectacular plays. On offence, Kenya’s play was fluid, putting swinging the ball wide and finding their speedsters on each flank. Sinaida Omondi in particular had an extra gear that none of the opponents could match. She ran around opponents with lightning quickness.

At centre, Janet Okello was a joy to watch. What makes her special is her sidesteps which are breathtaking and her ability suddenly change direction and to run at full speed, stop suddenly and take off again at full speed which leaves her opponents in sixes and sevens.

Veteran Philadelphia Olando is also deceptively fast and with her larger frame, she is difficult to stop. Support play was another area where Kenya excelled with Cynthia Atieno, Grace Adhiambo and Linet Moraa, another newcomer excelling.

But it was not just on offence where Kenya excelled. They also put in solid tackles throughout, tackling low and also putting in big hits.The tackles are impressive when you consider that many of these ladies only took up rugby recently. In fact their defence is better than what the Kenya men’s sevens team offered say around 2004 and before.

Their situational awareness was top notch as was their play at breakdowns which was aggressive and on point.

Kenya’s Results

Group Stage

Kenya 41 – Senegal 0
Kenya 42 – Madagascar 0

Cup Quarter-Finals: Kenya 42 – Zambia 5
Cup Semi-Finals: Kenya 27 – Madagascar 0
Cup Final: Kenya 29 – Uganda 7

Final Standings

Achieving great things against the odds.

Linet Moraa and Sinaida Omondi lead the players out of the tunnel for the final

Kenya’s performance is impressive when you consider how little support these ladies get. To begin with, unlike sports like basketball and hockey, there aren’t any corporations that run women’s teams. As such opportunities to play are limited.

Also due to lack of corporate support, many Kenyan lady rugby players often have to dig into their own pockets to play and also make huge sacrifices and travel significant distances to play.

And unlike other sports, girls rugby is hardly offered at any girls schools. There is no school’s competition. As a result, many of the ladies play rugby for the first time ever when they leave secondary school.

Financial support from the Union is often not forthcoming. In fact Kenya has often missed out on tournaments like the Dubai sevens due to lack of finances.

Despite all this, the Kenyan ladies have aqcuitted themselves really well and have now won the African championships for the first time ever

Kenya has improved significantly and are headed for bigger things.

Skipper Philadelphia Olando receives the Cup

To appreciate how well Kenya did in Gaborone, one need only look at how far Kenya has come. The Africa women’s rugby sevens tournament has been held since 2006. Kenya lost to Uganda in the semi-finals in both 2006 and 2007, losing 22-17 and 14-0 respectively.  In 2013, they beat Kenya 12-0 in the third place playoff

Another team that always had the upper hand over Kenya was Tunisia. They beat Kenya in the 2012 tournament final 14-10

South Africa is the one team that historically has completely dominated Kenya. The South Africa youth team beat Kenya in both 2006 and 2007. Kenya also lost in the 2008 semis to South Africa  by a score of 29-5 and in 2013 by a score of 36-0. In 2014 Kenya hosted the tournament in Machakos  and lost 15-0 to South Africa in the finals. In 2015, the tourney was held in South Africa and the hosts beat Kenya 31-5 in the final.

It was in 2016 that Kenya started to close the gap on South Africa. They lost the 2016 final 22-17 and again in 2017 by a score of 17-12

Kenya recorded their first ever win over South Africa at the qualifier for the 2018–19 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. They beat them 24-12 in the group stage. They went on to top group X with a 40-0 win over Mexico and a 17-5 win over Papua New Guinea. In the knockout stage, Kenya beat Argentina 17-12 before unfortunately losing to South Africa 12-7 in extra time.

The girls just need more support

Kenya rugby ladies have basically closed the gap on South Africa and are now in the overtaking lane. All they now need is additional support from Corporations to offer financial support to the teams and possibly employment opportunities for players. In addition, the KSSA should work hard at introducing the sport at school and University level so that the girls can start learning the fundamentals earlier.


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