Mwendwa’s defence of Okumbi doesn’t make sense


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The Kenya national team recently concluded a tour of Asia during which their performance was sub par. A loss to Iraq was followed by another loss to Thailand, a team that was ranked 49 places below Kenya in the FIFA rankings. In both matches, Kenya displayed very little imagination or attacking flair. They created hardly any chances and lacked cohesion. Calls for the replacement of coach Stan Okumbi with a more suitable coach which had been gaining momentum, finally reached a crescendo.

Nick Mwendwa has taken to social media and finally to TV to defend his choice of Stan Okumbi as coach. In the video below, his defence of Okumbi starts at the 33:28 mark.

In the paragraphs below we analyze each of Okumbi’s responses.

 

Mwendwa: About Okumbi, there is a group of people who are obsessed with firing of coaches. It does not work. Joachim Low has been coaching Germany since 2004……………..

Comparing Low to Okumbi is comical. Low has a glittering CV that includes winning the world cup and reaching the semi-finals of the Euros twice. And Low paid his dues by coaching in the youth level for 10 years as well as coaching clubs in Germany, Turkey and Austria. During this time he has several ups and downs. But he honed his skills and learned from his mistakes. He was then selected as assistant national team coach to Juergen Klinsmann.. It was during this time that national team players took notice of his tactical acumen. So when Klinsmann left , Low was selected.

This is a starke contrast to Okumbi who had no proven record, had not paid his dues and yet was somehow selected ahead of far more experienced coaches like Twahir Muhiddin, James Nandwa and others.

Mwendwa: I want to analyze performances. At the point when we shall conclude that Okumbi is unable, he shall go

Most fans and experts have already concluded that Okumbi will not hack it. Four straight losses to the Sierra Leone, Morocco U23 team, Iraq and Thailand have driven that point home. There have been some wins but they were not impressive. Kenya did indeed beat Congo-Brazzaville, Mozambique, Liberia at home. But those are single goal wins are to be expected. The only impressive win was an away win over Congo DR.

Mwendwa: I never promised that we shall win AFCON. I never promised AFCON 2019

But Kenyans have seen their neighbours Uganda qualify for Africa’s premier tournament. There is a generation of Kenyans that have known nothing nut mediocrity. They want to see Kenya qualify for a major tournament now. Kenya has not qualified for any tournament in 14 years and at this rate, many fans fear that they may never see anything of the sort happen in their lifetimes.

Mwendwa: We want to develop a group of coaches into world class coaches

National teams should not be used as a platform to develop coaches. To develop coaches, give local coaches appropriate training and let them use KPL clubs as a proving ground. The national team should not be used for experiments.

Mwendwa: We dont want to spend US 25,000 or 40,000 per month on foreign coaches when we have not created the raw materials

You need not spend that much on a coach. There are numerous capable coaches who are available for much less than that. In fact in the past few years, we have seen good coaches like Zdravko Logarusic, Stewart Hall, Frank Nuttall and others ply their trade in Kenya and produce excellent results

Mwendwa: When we invest in raw materials, we shall find that Okumbi or Kamau are ready for the task

By the time you conclude that Okumbi is incapable, Kenya will have already been eliminated from AFCON 2019 contention. Which is a shame considering that the number of teams that will participate in AFCON has expanded from 16 to 24.

Mwendwa: If Okumbi is unable to win CECAFA then we shall take action.

Winning a lower tier tournament like CECAFA at home should not be a determining factor. In CECAFA, teams typically send second string teams

Conclusion

This author has no personal issues with either Mwendwa or Okumbi but we think Okumbi should have had to prove himself on the local scene over several years before being given the mantle of national team coach. Giving a coach who has no proven record of success, the reins to the national team is comical at the least.

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Mwendwa’s defence of Okumbi does not make sense

The Kenya national team recently concluded a tour of Asia during which their performance was sub par. A loss to Iraq was followed by another loss to Thailand, a team that was ranked 49 places below Kenya in the FIFA rankings. In both matches, Kenya displayed very little imagination or attacking flair. They created hardly any chances and lacked cohesion. Calls for the replacement of coach Stan Okumbi with a more suitable coach which had been gaining momentum, finally reached a crescendo.

Nick Mwendwa has taken to social media and finally to TV to defend his choice of Stan Okumbi as coach. In the video below, his defence of Okumbi starts at the 33:28 mark.

In the paragraphs below we analyze each of Okumbi’s responses.

 

Mwendwa: About Okumbi, there is a group of people who are obsessed with firing of coaches. It does not work. Joachim Low has been coaching Germany since 2004……………..

Comparing Low to Okumbi is comical. Low has a glittering CV that includes winning the world cup and reaching the semi-finals of the Euros twice. And Low paid his dues by coaching in the youth level for 10 years as well as coaching clubs in Germany, Turkey and Austria. During this time he has several ups and downs. But he honed his skills and learned from his mistakes. He was then selected as assistant national team coach to Juergen Klinsmann.. It was during this time that national team players took notice of his tactical acumen. So when Klinsmann left , Low was selected.

This is a starke contrast to Okumbi who had no proven record, had not paid his dues and yet was somehow selected ahead of far more experienced coaches like Twahir Muhiddin, James Nandwa and others.

Mwendwa: I want to analyze performances. At the point when we shall conclude that Okumbi is unable, he shall go

Most fans and experts have already concluded that Okumbi will not hack it. Four straight losses to the Sierra Leone, Morocco U23 team, Iraq and Thailand have driven that point home. There have been some wins but they were not impressive. Kenya did indeed beat Congo-Brazzaville, Mozambique, Liberia at home. But those are single goal wins are to be expected. The only impressive win was an away win over Congo DR.

Mwendwa: I never promised that we shall win AFCON. I never promised AFCON 2019

But Kenyans have seen their neighbours Uganda qualify for Africa’s premier tournament. There is a generation of Kenyans that have known nothing nut mediocrity. They want to see Kenya qualify for a major tournament now. Kenya has not qualified for any tournament in 14 years and at this rate, many fans fear that they may never see anything of the sort happen in their lifetimes.

Mwendwa: We want to develop a group of coaches into world class coaches

National teams should not be used as a platform to develop coaches. To develop coaches, give local coaches appropriate training and let them use KPL clubs as a proving ground. The national team should not be used for experiments.

Mwendwa: We dont want to spend US 25,000 or 40,000 per month on foreign coaches when we have not created the raw materials

You need not spend that much on a coach. There are numerous capable coaches who are available for much less than that. In fact in the past few years, we have seen good coaches like Zdravko Logarusic, Stewart Hall, Frank Nuttall and others ply their trade in Kenya and produce excellent results

Mwendwa: When we invest in raw materials, we shall find that Okumbi or Kamau are ready for the task

By the time you conclude that Okumbi is incapable, Kenya will have already been eliminated from AFCON 2019 contention. Which is a shame considering that the number of teams that will participate in AFCON has expanded from 16 to 24.

Mwendwa: If Okumbi is unable to win CECAFA then we shall take action.

Winning a lower tier tournament like CECAFA at home should not be a determining factor. In CECAFA, teams typically send second string teams

Conclusion

This author has no personal issues with either Mwendwa or Okumbi but we think Okumbi should have had to prove himself on the local scene over several years before being given the mantle of national team coach. Giving a coach who has no proven record of success, the reins to the national team is comical at the least.

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AFC Leopards vs Al Ahly in 1987 (plus video)

One of the most memorable events in the history of Kenyan football was the encounter pitting the then Kenyan champions AFC Leopards against Egyptian giants Al Ahly also known as Nationale. This second round matchup was a tension filled event with plenty of anticipation by AFC Leopards fans.

Background
AFC qualified to represent Kenya in the 1987 Africa champions cup by winning the Kenya national football league in 1986. Except they did not just win the league. They won it in dominant fashion, winning 33 out of 38 matches, drawing 5 and losing no matches. At the end of the season, they had ammased 71 points, 10 points ahead of second placed Gor Mahia and 21 points ahead of third placed Scarlet.

It was a formidable AFC Leopards side that had also won the CECAFA club cup in 1979, 1982, 1983 and 1984. Players like Joe Masiga, Wilberforce Mulamba, Josphat Murila and Mahmoud Abbas had become household names all over East and Central Africa.

And Leopards were the best funded team in Kenya with a wealthy benefactor in Afred Sambu. Also they were the only team in Kenya with a corporate sponsor (Crown Paints).

Al Ahly for their part were the most formidable side in Africa. They had won the Egyptian league in 1985 and 1986 and more importantly had won the Africa cup winners cup in 1984, 1985 and 1986. And when Egypt won the Africa cup of nations in 1986, Al Ahly provided 10 players. The most notable among these was Taher Abou Zeid who had been the top scorer in the FIFA U21 cup in 1981 and top scorer in the Africa nations cup of 1984. Other national team players included Magdy Abdelghani, Hossam Hassan, Mohamed Ramadhan, Rabbie Yassin and goalkeepers Thabet Al Batal and Ahmed Shoubeir. All were well known all over Africa.

The two sides had met earlier in 1981 with Al Ahly winning 3-1 at home and drawing 1-1 in Nairobi. AFC had qualified for the second round by beating Tanzanian champions Maji Maji FC 1-0 at home and 1-0 away. Al Ahly for their part qualfied for the second round by beating Pantheros Noires of Rwanda 5-1 on aggregate.

First Leg

It was always going to be a daunting task for AFC Leopards, playing what was by then the best team in Africa, and playing in front of an intimidating crowd of 100,000 rabid fans. AFC Leopards were completely overwhelmed by the highly experienced and highly technical Egyptians. By halftime the score was 4-0 in favour of Al Ahly, who went on to add two more for a final score of 6-0.

 Match Video

Al Ahly displayed the typical North African technical skills with efficient movement off the ball, pin point passing and accurate finishing. Concepts that were completely foreign in Kenya where a teams performance was typically dependent on a players individual dribbling skills and passing and finishing was innacurate.

After the match, AFC Leopards Welsh coach Graham Williams, while trying to explain the debacle to the media, said that Al Ahly were a far superior team to AFC Leopards. So superior that he thought they could compete against any team in Europe. His remarks angered AFC Leopards chairman Alfred Sambu and Williams was promptly fired. Joe Masiga took over as player coach.

During this period, AFC Leopards had a very strong home record. They sought to strengthen it by playing the return leg at Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega where they thought the fanatical following would help them prevail. Al Ahly arrived in Kakamega several days before the match and trained at Kakamega high school. On match day, the driving rain rendered the playing conditions difficult for the Egyptians. The pitch was drenched in rain water which interefered with their passing game. The drenched field however suited AFC who thrived on long balls and speed down the flanks. Within 20 minutes, AFC Leopards were up 2-0 with both goals coming from Masiga and it looked like they might reverse the first leg score. However Al Ahly gathered themselves and even scored one goal. The final score was 2-1 in favour of AFC Leopards. The final aggregate score was 7-2. But AFC and in particular Joe Masiga had redeemed themselves. Not only did Masiga score twice but he was also responsible for coaching on the field and substituting and inspiring players.


JJ Masiga taking on Al Ahly defender Mahmoud Saleh


Wilberforce Mulamba in action at Bukhungu stadium against Al Ahly

Afterwards, the Zimbabwean referee accused AFC chairman Alfred Sambu of having tried to bribe him. The matter was reported to CAF and Sambu was suspended for two years by CAF. A year earlier Sambu had been accused of bribing players of Gor Mahia AFC before the first leg derby of 1986.

Al Ahly went on to win the Africa champions cup in 1987. The club has won more African club tournaments than any other. They also provided the bulk of the players who won the gold medal at the 1987 All Africa games in Nairobi. Two Al Ahly players: Taher Abou Zeid and Magdy Abdeelghani were voted among the ten best African players. Interestingly, two Kenyan players Peter Dawo and Ambrose Ayoyi were also voted among the ten best African players. It marks the only time two Kenyan players have made this list

 


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Osilisi ngai mayele by Josky Kiambukuta (Translation and Lyrics)

Introduction

This song was released in 1987 as part of the album named Franco Present Josky Kiambukuta. The album featured two other songs: Kita Mata Bloque and Minzata. It marked Josky’s return to TPOK Jazz after he had left the band in 1986 to pursue solo projects with Ntesa Dalienst and others.

Osilisi Ngai Mayele is a rendition of Josky’s 1979 hit Tokabola sentiment. This time Josky is joined on lead vocals by the then new sensation, the youthful Malage De Lugendo. It is a song about a woman who  has been deserted by her husband, a man known as Lukusa Tanzi. She tells Lukusa to return to the marriage though he has strayed.

Video

Lyrics and Translation

Josky’s first solo

Malage de Lugendo’s first solo

Josky’s second solo

Malage de Lugendo’s second solo

 

Kenya Music Page

 

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Lets hope Tergat emulates Mike Boit not Kipchoge Keino

Paul Tergat has been elected the president of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK). For most Kenyans his election is a breath of fresh air. NOCK has been the most corruption ridden and incompetent sports organization in Kenya. The officials have been raking in millions of Kenya shillings in underhanded deals while completely neglecting to perform even the most basic duties that are required of them. At the 2011 and 2015 All Africa games as well as the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth games, the Kenyan delegation was let down by poor organization which demoralized athletes and cost Kenya medals. But it was the 2016 Olympics which ended up being a fiasco of epic proportions. Among the scandalous occurrences at the 2016 Olympics included:

  • Kenyan coaches like John Anzrah and Catherine Ndereba going without food and having to plead with runners to give them food or allow them to use their badges to eat at the athletes village.
  • A paperwork mixup caused sprinter Carvin Nkanata to be disqualified. He had to fly home. He later won his appeal, and flew back to Rio just in time to run. The resulting jet lag doomed his performance. The fiasco seems to have caused him to give up on running
  • Boxes of Uniforms and other equipment that was supplied by sponsors like Nike and meant for the athletes, were stolen by officials.
  • Athletes were forced to move into a shanty after they were kicked out of the athletes village but had no tickets to return home.
  • Meanwhile NOCK officials were pocketing millions of Kenya shillings that was meant for the athletes.
  • Eliud Kipchoge could not find water to rehydrate during the marathon race.

 

All these scandals happened while Kipchoge Keino was NOCK chairman. You would think a man who represented Kenya would be able to at a minimum look out for the welfare of athletes. But instead Keino not only presided over the corruption and incompetence, but he himself was neck deep in the corruption and theft. In fact his daughter in law took pictures of herself in the stolen uniforms and posted them on twitter.

The corruption was so brazen that Keino did not even have any qualms about demanding that he be re-elected again. Kenyan athletes succeeded on the track and these officials took credit for it. This despite the fact that they were not involved in any way shape of form in the preparations. Ask any of these guys what training program  Eliud Kipchoge did to prepare for the Olympic marathon and they could not tell you. Not even Keino.

Tergat is one of the most succesful track athletes of all time in the whole world. He is a five time world cross country champion, two time world half marathon champion. He won numerous city marathons such as the New York marathon and the Berlin Marathon where he set a world record in 2004. His record on the track was excellent. But can he clean up the mess at NOCK? Can he emulate Mike Boit?

Mike Boit had an illustrious and long running career which included winning a gold medal at the 1978 commonwealth games and a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympics. But it was when he was appointed Kenya sports commissioner in 1990 that he really made his mark. Before his arrival at KNSC, Kenyan athletes were thoroughly and utterly exploited by officials in charge of athletics. The officials would demand a cut of every penny that an athlete made. If an athlete refused to comply, he would not be allowed to leave the country to go and compete and make money. And this was during an era when opportunities to make money by running were few and far between. The officials would also take a huge cut off any reward money given by politicians to athletes. In some cases, the money disappeared before it even made it into the hands of the athlete.

Such was the case of Stephen Muchoki who was given a gift of 34 grade cows by Jomo Kenyatta and never saw any of them because the officials took them. There was also the case of heavyweight boxer James Demosh Omondi who after his performance at the 1984 Olympics in LA, was invited to become a sparring partner for a boxer who was going to challenge for a world title. He was to earn hundreds of US$ per day. At the time Demosh was a soldier. A senior army officer demanded a cut of the money. Demosh baulked and the army refused to give him permission to go.

Mike Boit ended these exploitative acts when he became chairman of KNSC in 1990. He ushered in an era where runners could pocket their hard earned financial gains without worrying about officials demanding a cut.

Kenyans will be hoping that at a minimum Tergat will stop the corruption, poor organization and theft that bedevils NOCK. Equipment that is donated by sponsors should go to the athletes. The athletes who sacrifice their time and often money to run for their country are the ones who should be getting financial rewards that come from sponsors and not the officials. Money should be well accounted for.

Over and above that, Kenyans will be hoping that Tergat can come up with a program to boost the performance of the country in other sports besides athletics. Kenya has become so dependent on athletics that the country cannot win medals in any other sport be it the Olympics, the Commonwealth games or even the All Africa games. Now contrast this with Nigeria which won 11 gold , 11 silver and 14 bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth games from a wide variety of sports like power-lifting, boxing, table-tennis and wrestling.

Instead of allowing NOCK officials to pocket millions of shillings from sponsors, the money could be channeled towards developing young athletes who could represent Kenya in the future as well as by hiring could coaches who can teach modern techniques.

It will be a tall order for Tergat. NOCK  has been rife with corruption and theft for years. The good news for Tergat is that some of the most corrupt NOCK officials were not re-elected. The list includes Keino, Ben Ekumbo and Stephen arap Soi all of whom were implicated in grand corruption schemes. The bad news some of the bad elements from the past retained their positions.

 


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Kenya should forget hosting events and focus on youth development

On Saturday September 24 2017, Kenya was stripped of the hosting rights for the 2018 CHAN tournament. Kenya had been awarded hosting rights in 2014. But progress in stadium construction was slow and it became painfully obvious to CAF that the stadia would not be ready for the event. The government did finally disburse Ksh 4.2 billion to be used in hosting the event. By then however CAF had lost patience. Two days later CAF finally announced that Kenya would n longer host the event.

After the announcement, FKF chair Nick Mwendwa consoled Kenyans by saying that CAF would back Kenya’s bid to host the FIFA U20 or U17 tournament.

But this must be a joke. If Kenya proved incapable and too disorganized to host a relatively low calibre tournament like CHAN then what makes anyone think FIFA would award Kenya any kind of hosting rights?

The fact of the matter is that the Kenya government has proven over and over that they will never take hosting a football tournament seriously. Yet government support is a pre-requisite in hosting FIFA and CAF tournaments. And even when Kenya is given hosting rights, the organization tends to be too shambolic. Think back to the 2013 CECAFA cup which Kenya hosted. Teams were locked in their hotel rooms for non-payment of dues. The organization was so poor that some teams such as Zanzibar vowed never to play a tournament in Kenya again.

Finances

But perhaps the biggest reason Kenya should stop bidding for hosting rights is the sheer cost. For CHAN for example, the government committed to spending Ksh 4.2 billion. This kind of money would be better spent solving more urgent problems: Kenya’s poor performance is football is due to lack of youth development the result of which is that Kenya players are of a low calibre. Our football teams are cursed with trying to win with players whose skills such as ball control, finishing, accurate passing etc are below par.

The Ksh 4.2 Billion that the government would have spent on hosting CHAN is better spent developing football at the grassroots. Train youth coaches and employ them to scout and develop young players at U13, U16 and U19 levels. There should be such programs in counties where football talent can be found in plenty.

Kenya’s golden age was not a fluke

The performance of the national team is directly dependent on how much is invested in youth development. As far back as 1981 (36 years ago), German coach Bernard Zgoll pointedly told Kenyan football authorities that there were no shortcuts to becoming a footballing power. It requires long term investment in youth development. Zgoll went ahead and established youth development centres all over the country out of his own initiative. But Kenyans were too impatient and wanted instant results. As a result KFF got rid of Zgoll and his youth development centres fell apart after they had produced such superb players like Wilberforce Mulamba, Ambrose ‘Golden Boy’ Ayoyi, Bobby Ogolla, Sammy Taabu, Hussein Kheri, Josephat Murila, Austin Oduor, Mahmoud Abbas and Sammy Owino ‘Kempes”

Zgoll when he returned to Kenya for a visit in 1990, seen with national team coach Mohamed Kheri and national team captain Austin Oduor

This golden generation of players were largely responsible for helping Kenya win the CECAFA cup three times in a row. And this was during a period when Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi were regular CECAFA members and sent their best players to the tournament. The generation also helped fuel superb performances by Kenyan clubs. Between 1976 and 1989, Kenyan clubs like Luo Union, AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia and Tusker won the CECAFA club cup 13 out of 15 times.

At continental level, Gor Mahia reached the Cup winners cup final in 1979, won it in 1987 while AFC Leopards reached the semi-finals in 1986. Meanwhile Harambee stars qualified for the Africa Nations cup three times in a row (1988, 1990 and 1992). Such continental dreams are only pipe dreams today.

Yet instead of investing in youth development, FKF leaders and government officials are focusing on the cheap thrill of hosting CHAN, a tournament whose prestige is certainly not worth the Ksh 4.2 billion and which will have no impact on the standards of football in the country.

 


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Tokabola Sentiment by Josky and TPOK Jazz (Lyrics and Translation)

Introduction

Tokabola Sentiment translates to: Let’s share the feeling. Released in 1979, this is one of Josky Kiambukuta’s greatest hits. In Zaire (now Congo), it was popularly known as Lukusa Tanzi. While in East Africa especially Kenya, it was popularly known as Kizungu Zungu. It is one of the songs that made the period between the late 1970s and the early 1980s to be the golden era of Congolese music.

Video

It is a song who has been deserted by her husband. She describes how her life has becomes unbearable and pleads with her husband to come home even if he has been with other women. . Allusions made to Shaba province (now Katanga) and Europe where the husband’s other women presumably live.

Lyrics and Translation

 

Kenya Music Page

 

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Mujinga by Franco & TPOK Jazz (Translation and Lyrics)

The song Mujinga, composed by Franco was released in 1981. It was part of the popular album labeled Le Quart De Siecle De Franco De Mi Amor (Quarter century of Franco). The album also featured classic hits Bina Na Ngai na respect by Dalienst and Mobali Malamu, also by Franco.

It is a song that features a discussion between two women. One of the women tells the other that her husband has been trying to woo her by complaining that his current wife does not cook well, does not clean the house and is generally not a good wife.

Franco provides lead vocals and also plays a blistering lead guitar in the sebene section of the song. The choral section prominently features Ntesa Dalienst.

 

Translation

<The song concludes with some brilliant guitar wizardry by Franco>

 

Kenya Music Page

 

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Kenyans shine in Ivo Van Damne Diamond League

Kenyan athletes were in sensational form during the final Diamond league meet of the 2017 season, the Ivo Van Damne meet in Belgium. Faith Kipyegon, Hellen Obiri, Conseslus Kipruto and Elijah Manangoi, all won their respective races to end a 2017 season which has been excellent for all of them. In the end, Obiri, Kipruto and Kipyegon ended up as overall Diamond league winners in their respective events.

Kipyegon Battle Sifan Hassan

Of all these athletes, Faith Kipyegon is the one who faced the strongest challenge. The challenge came in the form of Sifan Hassan. The Dutch woman  has the fastest 1500m time of the 2017 season, while Kipyegon is the defending world and Olympic champion. It was bound to be a epic battl. Hassan and Kipyegon went neck and neck from the bell all the way until there were 30 metres left when Kipyegon found another gear which enabled her to edge past Hassan. Another Kenyan, Winny Chebet, who is normally an 800m specialist, finished third.

Race Results

POS BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK
1 Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon  KEN 3:57.04
2 Sifan Hassan  NED 3:57.22
3 Winny Chebet  KEN 4:00.18
4 Gudaf Tsegay  ETH 4:00.36
5 Meraf Bahta  SWE 4:00.49
6 Jennifer Simpson  USA 4:00.70
7 Laura Weightman  GBR 4:00.71
8 Angelika Cichocka  POL 4:02.77
9 Besu Sado  ETH 4:03.83
10 Rababe Arafi  MAR 4:07.22
11 Malika Akkaoui  MAR 4:10.76

Race Video

Conseslus Kipruto in last gasp win

In the mens 3000m steeplechase, world champion Conseslus Kipruto left it until the last 10 metres to win the race. Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali led for most of the last lap. With 100 metres to go, the Moroccan had a significant lead and appeared on course to win. But Kipruto with a burst of energy after the final hurdle, passed El Bakkali, but with only a few metres left.

Race Video

Results

POS BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK
1 Conseslus Kipruto  KEN 8:04.73
2 Soufiane Elbakkali  MAR 8:04.83
3 Evan Jager  USA 8:11.71
4 Stanley Kipkoech Kebenei  USA 8:11.93
5 Nicholas Kiptonui Bett  KEN 8:12.20
6 Benjamin Kigen  KEN 8:13.06
7 Amos Kirui  KEN 8:18.32
8 Yemane Haileselassie  ERI 8:19.19
9 Jairus Kipchoge Birech  KEN 8:25.58
10 Andrew Bayer  USA 8:26.15
11 Abraham Kibiwott  KEN 8:33.76
12 Sebastián Martos  ESP 8:44.23

One issue for Kenyans in this event is the luck of depth. With the likes of Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto retiring, Kenya has only one medal contender: Kipruto. Yet this is an event where there were many years when Kenya had as many as 7 of the top 10 runners.

Obiri concludes a glorious season

The 2017 season has been by far the best season in Hellen Obiri’s career. Having switched from the 1500m to the 5000m Obiri thoroughly dominated the event in 2017, running the fastest time of the season, winning the world championships, and winning the Diamond league title.

Compatriot Caroline Kipkirui pushed Obiri until there was 200 metres left, upon which Obiri made her move Kipkirui could not respond.

Race Video

Race Results

POS BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK
1 Hellen Onsando Obiri  KEN 14:25.88
2 Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui  KEN 14:27.55
3 Senbere Teferi  ETH 14:32.03
4 Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi  KEN 14:32.82
5 Beatrice Chepkoech  KEN 14:39.33
6 Lilian Kasait Rengeruk  KEN 14:41.61
7 Letesenbet Gidey  ETH 14:42.74
8 Eilish McColgan  GBR 14:48.49
9 Susan Krumins  NED 14:51.25
10 Agnes Jebet Tirop  KEN 14:52.39
11 Etenesh Diro  ETH 15:07.69

 

Manangoi caps brilliant season

Elijah Manangoi fresh off winning the 1500m at the world athletics championships, won the men’s 1500m , easily fending off a challenge from Mahiedine Mekhissi of France

POS BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK
1 Elijah Motonei Manangoi  KEN 3:38.97
2 Mahiedine Mekhissi  FRA 3:39.42
3 Jordan Williamsz  AUS 3:40.03
4 Adel Mechaal  ESP 3:40.43
5 Jamal Hairane  QAT 3:40.58
6 Vincent Letting  KEN 3:41.15
7 Isaac Kipruto Kimeli  BEL 3:41.45
8 Adam Clarke  GBR 3:41.72
9 Ali Hamdi  BEL 3:41.88
10 Tarik Moukrime  BEL 3:44.11

 

Overall Diamond League winners 2017

Faith Kipyegon, Hellen Obiri and Conseslus Kipruto were among the overall winners.

 


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Kenya’s prospects at the 2017 World Athletics championships


Kenyan runners were dominant at the 2015 world championships

In the 2015 world athletics championships, Kenya were dominant and ended up at the top of standings for the first time ever with 7 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze. The 2017 edition will be held in London. What are Kenya’s prospects. Lets start with the middle distance events.

Men’s 800m

This is typically a strength for Kenya. David Rudisha is the defending champion but he has pulled out of the event citing an injury. The world leading time is held by US based Kenyan Emmanuel Korir at 1:43.10. He is a strong contender but will face an equally strong challenge from Nijel Amos who has been running very well this season with a couple of Diamond League wins to his credit. If it comes to a sprint between Korir and Amos, I would bet on Korir to win given his superior 400m speed. His personal best in the 400m is an impressive 44.53. And he holds the world indoor record in the 600m.

Prediction:
Gold: Korir
Silver: Amos
Bronze: Rudisha

Women’s 800m

Caster Semenya has been invincible since the CAS decision that allowed her to compete without hormone control therapy. She and Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi will certainly go 1-2. The only question is who will occupy the third position.
Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera is a contender for bronze, having finished third in Rio. But America’s Ajee Bishop recently clocked 1:55.61, a personal best and a time that is faster than anything Nyairera has run. Canada’s Melissa Bishop is another one who could challenge for a podium place

Prediction:
Gold: Semenya
Silver: Niyonsaba
Bronze: Wilson

Men’s 1500m

Asbel Kiprop is the defending champion. But he too has had a sub par season in 2017. And his last major outing (Rio 2017) was disastrous. Elijah Motonei Manangoi was the silver medalist in 2015. He looks like he is in superb form based on his performance at the Monaco Grand Prix on July 21. He and Timothy Cheruiyot showed the rest of the field a clean pair of heals in the last lap and in the final stright, Manangoi easily passed Cheruiyot to clock 3:28.50. And Manangoi would have run faster had he not eased up.

Prediction
Gold: Manangoi
Silver: Cheruiyot
Bronze: Aman Wote

Women’s 1500m

2015 was the year of Genzebe Dibaba 2016 was the year of Faith Kipyegon. It looks like 2017 is going to be the year of Sifan Hassan. She has run the three fastest times in the world in the 1500m including a season’s best of 3:56.14 that she ran at Hengelo in front of a partisan crowd.
Faith Kipyegon has run sparingly this season. Her season’s best is 3:57.51 that she ran in Paris while finishing second to Hassan. Genzebe Dibaba has not run much this season and it is not clear what form she is in.

Prediction
Gold: Hassan
Silver: Kipyegon
Bronze: Dibaba

Men’s 3000m Steeplechase

This is an event that Kenya has thoroughly dominated. A Kenyan has won every single event at the world championships since 1991 and every Olympic event since 1984. This includes Kenyans who were representing other nations.

Nevertheless 2017 represents the first time in a long time that Kenya is in danger of not winning this event. The challenge comes in the form of American Evan Jaeger who clocked the world leading time in Monaco at 8:01.29 , beating Jairus Birech by a good six seconds.

Kenya’s best hope should be Olympic gold medalist Conseslus Kipruto. He has nott run match this season. His season’s best time was in Rome on June 8 where he clocked 8:04.63. This is three seconds behind Jaeger’s time. Also Kipruto is battling an injury which he picked up during the Kenya trials. So his fitness is questionable.

Ezekiel Kemboi will be back having qualified automatically as defending champ. He has not run this season. But you can never rule out the wily old veteran. And he vowed to make amends of the Rio 2016 disaster where he was disqualified.

Another challenge comes in the form of Soufiane Elbakkali of Morocco who has the third fastest time of the season.

This may sound like blasphemy but given the injury to Kipruto and the unknown form of Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto, we could be looking at the first time that a Kenyan will not win this event since 1987. Still its difficult to bet against Kenya in this event so I will go with Kipruto

Prediction
Gold: Kipruto
Silver : Jaeger
Bronze: Elbakkali

Women’s 3000m Steeplechase

The women’s 3000m steeplechase has been extremely competitive in 2017. Superb times have been record by the major contenders including three Kenyans Hyvin Kiyeng who is the defending champion, Beatrice Chepkoech and outstanding newcomer Cellphine Chespol who has the season at 8:58.78. The primary challenger to the Kenyans is Kenyan turned Bahraini Ruth Jebet who holds the world record at 8:52.78 . Though Chespols seasons best is six seconds slower than Ruth Jebet’s world record, it is worth noting that Chespol soundly beat Jebet in Eugene even after having lost her shoe.

Prediction
Gold: Chespol
Silver : Jebet
Bronze: Kiyeng

Mens 5000m

This event has been dominated by Mo Farah for the past few years. Though the Somali born Briton has not run much this season, he is still a clear favourite. Kenya will be represented by the trio of Cyrus Ruto, Davis Kiplagat and veteran Kiprono Menjo. Going by current form, Kenya is unlikely to challenge Farah in this event. Ruto who won the trials is Kenya’s best bet for a podium finish. Menjo who is 37, is making a comeback to the Kenya team after a decade will be key in giving his youthful team-mates advice on how to prepare and race. Mukhtar Edris of Ethiopia will likely be Farah’s closest challenger. He has the best time of the season at 12:55.23. Kenyan turned American Paul Chelimo who thoroughly dominated the USA trials is another challenger for a podium finish.

Prediction:
Gold: Farah
Silver: Edris
Bronze: Ruto

Womens 5000m

Under normal circumstances, Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana would be the hot favourite. But she has not run in 2017. Instead it is Kenya’s Hellen Obiri who has been burning the tracks in what has become a career year for her. She has run the fastest times of the 2017 season in the women’s mile, 3000m and 5000m. In all three, she has set new Kenya records.

Aside from Almaza Ayana, the other strong challenge to Obiri will come from Ethiopia’s Senfere Teferi.

Prediction:
Gold: Obiri
Silver: Ayana
Bronze: Teferi

Men’s 10000m

This is another event in which Mo Farah has not lost a major race in years. And the fact that he clocked 27:12.09 in June of this year suggests that he will not be losing in London either. But he will face a stronger challenge in the 10K than the 5K.

Kenya will be represented by Geoffrey Kamworor, Bedan Karoki, Paul Tanui. Kamworor was in outstanding form earlier this year when he won the world cross country championships in Kampala. Tanui is the Olympic silver medalist from Rio 2016. Bedan Karoki has been in sensational form in road races of late. He recently set the fastest time of the year for 10K road racing with a time of 27:36.4 in winning the Beach to Beacon 10K.

Another strong challenge to Mo Farah will come from the Ethiopian duo of Abadi Hadis and Jemal Yimmer both of whom hold the fastest times of the season in the 10,0000m with times of 27:08.26 and 27:09.08 respectively.

Prediction:
Gold: Farah
Silver: Hadis
Bronze: Kamworor

Women’s 10,000m

If Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei was in this race, she would be a strong contender. She has run the fastest times in the 10km road race with a time of 30:04. That is significantly faster than anyone has run on the track this season. But she will not be there. Instead the most likely winner will be Almaz Ayana who won this race going away at Rio 2016. The legendary Tirunesh Dibaba will be in the race but she is unlikely to recreate her form from a years ago when she dominated this event. But her performance in the London marathon where she finished second, suggests that she still has a lot of petrol left in the tank. Kenya’s best hope lies with Alice Aprot who won the Kenya national championships.

Prediction:
Gold: Ayana
Silver: Aprot
Bronze: Dibaba

Men’s Marathon

Marathon’s are notoriously difficult to predict. Current form alone is never sufficient. Much depends on the terrain, weather, incline and other factors. Daniel Wanjiru clocked 2:05:48 to win the London Marathon. This is the third fastest time of the season behind Wilson Kipsang and Tamirat Tola.

Since Wanjiru knows the London course well and has won here, I would place my bet on him to emulate his namesake, the late Sammy Wanjiru. Legend Kenenisa Bekele, whom Wanjiru beat in London is another who will provide a strong challenge as he attempts to solidify his legacy as the greatest distance runner of all time.

Prediction:
Gold: Wanjiru
Silver: Bekele
Bronze: Tola

Women’s Marathon

Edna Kiplagat will be making a return to an event she won in grand style in 2007. In 2017, she clocked 2:21:52 to win the Boston Marathon. She will therefore be a strong contender.

Kenyan turned Bahraini Eunice Jepkirui who won the silver medal at Rio 2016, is one racer who saves her best for championship races and not in City marathons. She is likely to put on another super display just as she did in Rio.

And once again you can always count on the Ethiopians to provide strong challenge. They will be led by Mare Dibaba.

Prediction:
Gold: Jepkirui
Silver: Kiplagat
Bronze: Dibaba

Other events


Mark Otieno set a new Kenya record in the 100m

Kenya rarely enters runners in the 100m. This time however Kenya will be represented by the charismatic Mark Otieno who set a new Kenya record at 10.14. Otieno’s aim will be to lower the Kenya record again perhaps with a milestone time that will see him become the first Kenyan to dip under 10.10. A semi-final place for him will be a huge achievement. Otieno is also entered in the 200m where his personal best is 20.41

In the women’s 400m, Maximilla Imali will be looking to be the first Kenyan to excel in this event since Ruth Waithera reached the Olympic final in 1984. Imali broke Waithera’s 33 year old record by clocking 51.18 8 Feb 96 51.18.

The trio of Raymond Kibet, Collins Omae, Boniface Mweresa will represent Kenya in the 400m. Unfortunately, all Kenyan relay teams have been dropped from the competition.

Julius Yego, who won the silver medal at Rio 2016 and the gold at Beijing 2015, should never be counted out despite having had a below par season.

Full Team

Women’s 10,000: Agnes Tirop, Irene Cheptai, Alice Aprot

Men’s 10,000m: Geoffrey Kamworor, Bedan Karoki, Paul Tanui

Men’s 100m: Mark Otieno

Men’s 200m: Mark Otieno

Women’s 5000m: Hellen Obiri, Margaret Chelimo, Sheila Chepkirui

Men’s 5000m: Cyrus Ruto, Davis Kiplagat, Kiprono Menjo

Women’s 400m: Maximilla Imali

Men’s 400m: Raymond Kibet, Collins Omae, Boniface Mweresa

Men’s Javelin: Julius Yego

Men’s 1500m: Ronald Kwemoi, Timothy Cheruiyot, Elijah Manangoi, Asbel Kiprop

Women’s 1500m: Faith Chepn’getich, Winnie Chebet, Judy Kiyeng.

Women’s 3000m Steeplechase: Cellphine Chespol, Beatrice Chepkoech, Purity Kirui, Hyvin Kiyeng

Men’s 3,00m steeplechase: Conseslus Kipruto, Brimin Kipruto,

Jairus Birech, Ezekiel Kemboi

Women’s 800m: Margaret Nyairera, Eunice Sum, Emily Cherotich

Men’s 800m: Emmanuel Korir, Kipyegon Bett, Ferguson Rotich, David Rudisha

Men’s walk race: Samuel Gathimba, Simon Wachira

Women’s race walk: Grace Wanjiru

Men’s Marathon: Daniel Wanjiru, Geoffrey Kirui, Paul Lonyangata

Women’s marathon: Edna Kiplagat, Hela Kiprop, Flomena Cheyech.

 


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