2015 was a memorable season in Kenyan athletics. Even by Kenya’s illustrious standards it was a season that many Kenyans will remember for a long time and will be recalled often in the annals of history.
Kenya leads medal standings in world championships
Firstly Kenya finished atop the medal standings in the 2015 world athletics championships, finishing ahead of powers like the USA, Britain and Russia. It marked the first time Kenya had finished atop the standings in this event.
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Julius Yego became the first Kenyan to win a field event at the world championships. But he did not just win. He won in style, tossing the javelin to a distance of 92.72 m which is the best mark in the world since 2001. The toss alco catupulted Yego to 4th position in the all time list of javelin throwers. Yego had the top two marks in the javelin in 2015.
Another first came from Nicholas Bett who won the 400m hurdles in 47.79. This was also the best time in the world in 2015. It marked the first time a Kenyan had won a sprint gold medal at the world championships. And Bett did it while running out of lane 9 which is the most difficult lane to win a one lap race.
Other gold medalists were Vivian Cheruiyot who upstaged Gelete Burka to win the women’s 10,000m after a long layoff. Hyin Kiyeng Jepkemoi also upset formbook to win the women’s 3000m steeplechase. Asbel Kiprop came from way behind to win the men’s 1500m. David Rudisha who has struggled with injuries since 2012, also made grand comeback to win the men’s 800m and Ezekiel Kemboi who cemented his place as the best 3000m steeplechaser ever when he won the his thirs straight world championship gold medal.
2015 World cross country championships
Kenyans finished atop the medal standings in both men and women’s senior races. In the men’s race, Geoffrey Kamworor and compatriot Bedan Karoki finished 1-2 leaving the Ethiopians chasing shadows. Agnes Jebet Tirop who was only 19, won the women’s event.
Though Kenya did not win the team event, winning the individual diadems was more satisfactory because bragging rights actually depend on winning the individual races rather than the team titles.
Kenyan Sprinters rise and set new records
2015 was a memorable season for Kenyan sprinters. Numerous national records were set and Kenyan sprinters showed signs of returning to the glory days for the early 1980s.
In the 100m, Mike Mokamba Nyangau set a new national record when he clocked a time of 10.23 at the national championships. The mere fact that the record was set and ratified at Kasarani is a huge coup for Kenyan sprinters. Normally basic equipment like wind gauges and electronic timers are missing from Kenyan meets which renders any records set as unnoficial. This shows that the Kenyan athletics setup is starting to take sprinters seriously.
In the 200m, Carvin Nkanata set a new national mark of 20.14 at a meet in Clermont, USA. It was an impressive time and was the world leading time at the beginning of the track season.
Another impressive record came from Eunice Kadogo who set a new national record in the women’s 100m with a time of 11.47. She did it while winning the silver medal at the All Africa games that were held in Brazzaville Congo. The previous record had lasted 28 years since it was set by Joyce Odhiambo in 1987. Kadogo’s feat also marked the first time that a Kenyan woman had won a medal in the short sprints in the All Africa games.
At the same meet, the Kenyan quartet of Alex Sapao,Raymond Kibet, Kiprono Koseki and Boniface Mweresa won the gold medal in the 4 X 400m and in the process set a new games record at 3:00.34. It is the second fastest Kenyan mark of all time.
The final and most impressive record came via Nicholas Bett who became world champion in grand style as described in the section above.
Kenyans dominate the 2015 Diamond League
Kenyan runners were once again dominant in the Diamond League. Asbel Kiprop, Jairus Birech, Eunice Sum and newcomer Virginia Nganga were the overall winners in their respective events. Birech won 4 out of the 8 Diamond league races in the 3000m steeplechase. He ran a world leading time of 7:58.53 in Paris. Asbel Kiprop also ran a world leading time of 3:26.69 that made him the third fastest person ever in the 1500m.
Virginia Nganga, running in the Diamond League for the first time, won an impressive 4 out of 8 steepchase races in the Diamond league. This is impressive for a runner who until 2014 was only a pace-setter. Eunice Sum had an even more impressive season, winning 6 out 8 Diamond league races and running a world leading time of 1:56.99 in Paris.
Other impressive runners were Silas Kiplagat who won two Diamond league races in the 1500 and the evergreen Paul Kipsiele Koech who won the steepechase in Zurich. Koech has been running in the internation circuit for an amazing 14 years !!!!!!!
Kenyans excel in the major city marathons
Kenyans were as usual ubiquitous on the winners podium at major city marathons. Nowehere were Kenyans more dominant than in the London Marathon where Kenyans occupied the top 5 positions. Eliud Kipchoge upstaged his two more illustrious compatriots, Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto to win. Stanley Biwott won the 2015 New York marathon.Dickson Chumba surprised many when he won the 2015 Chicago marathon. He was followed home by compatriots Sammy Kitwara and Sammy Ndungu. Kipchoge also win the Berlin marathon with a world leading time of 2:04:00.
On the women’s side, Florence Kiplagat won the 2015 Chicago marathon. Mary Keitany won the 2015 New York marathon and Caroline Rotich won the 2015 Boston marathon.
At the end of 2015, Eliud Kipchoge and Mary Keitany were leading in the overall standings of the world marathon majors.
Kenyans won a host of other minor city marathons such as Frankfurt and Amsterdam.
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