On Sunday June-5-2016, Kenya’s Harambee Stars registered their first win of the 2017 Africa Nations cup when they beat Congo 2-1. But Harambee Stars were not just victorious, they played much better than they have played of late, and were the better side against a side that is ranked more than 60 places above them in the FIFA ranking.
Prior to the match, Harambee Stars played two build up matches against Tanzania and Sudan. Though Kenya’s performance was unimpressive. coach Stan Okumbi was not worried. He stated that the friendlies gave him an opportunity to gauge the current form of the players and determine which player combinations work.
“I think the two build-ups played a big role in the result. We came from a goal down in both friendlies against Tanzania and Sudan. That showed the players have a strong character and fighting spirit,” said Okumbi in Sunday’s post match press conference.” said coach Okumbi to the Standard
Indeed the importance of friendlies matches for national teams cannot be gainsaid. These players never get opportunities to play together as clubs do. They only assemble about a week prior to the match. This makes it difficult for a coach to gauge player’s form, work on combinations or build cohesion.
Players need to play several matches together so that they can gain an understanding, gain a measure of cohesion and anticipate each others moves.
In recent years, Kenya has not played any quality friendlies ahead of key matches. Such was the case against Cape Verde, Zambia and Guinea Bissau all of whom Kenya lost to.
“It could have happened in the two leg match against Guinea Bissau, but I didn’t have enough time to train with the players. It was my first time as the national team coach. I think in future, we need to get as many friendlies as possible so that we can build that confidence in the players.” continued Okumbi
And during the nightmare Nyamweya era, Kenya never played any quality friendlies. The only time they played any friendly at all was when there was an opportunity for Nyamweya to make money via agent fees that are paid by agents who organize high profile friendlies.
Indeed in 2014, both Victor Wanyama and Dennis Oliech were vocal in asking for friendlies, both saying it would have been better for the government to help organize friendlies instead of sending the team on holiday to watch the world cup. So Kenya went to Brazil instead of staying at home to prepare. The net result was that they were eliminated by Lesotho from the 2015 Africa Nations cup qualifiers.
Four Kenyans won their respective races at the 2016 Birmingham Diamond League meet. Asbel Kiprop and Consesulus Kipruto won the 1500m and 3000m steeplechase in world leading times while David Rudisha fello short of his world record attempt but still won the 600m in the second fastest time ever. Veteran Vivian Cheruiyot showed that she is a serious Olympic gold medal contender when she won the women’s 5000m.
Conseslus Kipruto unstoppable in 2016
Conseslus Kipruto, winning despite an inefficient hurdling style
Conseslus Kipruto has for the past two years lived in the shadows of his more illustrious compatriots like Ezekiel Kemboi. And while Jairus Birech dominated in 2015. This season as been Kipruto’s coming out party. He has won all four Diamond League races in Doha, Rabat, Rome and now Birmingham with a world leading time of 8:00.12. He set out on a torrid pace leaving the rest of the field in his wake. He covered the first 1000m in world record pace. The crowd roared him on so he could go sub 8:00.00. However he could not sustain the pace. Still he finished 60 metres ahead of the rest of the field just as he did in Rome.
The evergreen Paul Kipsiele Koech who has been running at this level since 2002 finished second in 8:10.19. Kipsiele’s longevity is amazing. He has been able to run at such a high level for 14 years. Jairus Birech who was the only to challenge Kipruto in Rome, finished a distant 5th this time as Kenyans occupied the top 6 positions.
Asbel Kiprop in dominant form
Going into the 1500m, Asbel Kiprop indicated that he wanted to run a fast race. He did not dissapoint as he clocked 3:29.33 to finish four seconds ahead of second placed Abdilaati Iguider. Kiprop thus set a new world leading time to top the previous one he set earlier in the season.
Kiprop has indicated that he wants to make amends for having missed a medal at the 2012 games and running in dominant fashion helps build hos confidence ahead of Rio.
“Getting the Diamond Race points are important as well. It helps in training as well and makes you confident ahead of the (world) championships.” he said.
Former world championship silver medalist Silas Kiplagat finished 6th and will find it difficult to qualify for the Rio games. Aside from Kiprop, he will have to contend with Elijah Manangoi, James Magut and possibly Rober Biwott.
David Rudisha misses world record
David Rudisha won the rarely run 600 metres. He had set out to break the world record which was set at 1:12.81 by American Gray in 1986. Rudisha won his race in 1:13.10 which is now the second fastest time ever.
The fact that Rudisha is confident enough to pursue a world record of any kind bodes well for his prospects in Rio. It means he has recovered from the injuries that plagued him between 2012 and 2015.
Vivian Cheruiyot beats a strong field.
Cheruiyot wins in her less preferred event
Vivian Cheruiyot made her experience pay when he pipped compatriot Mercy Cherono in the women’s 5000m, winning in 15:12.79. Cherono was a close second in 15:12.85. Cheruiyot’s favoured race is the 10,000m. And this is the race he will likely run at the Rio Olympics. Winning the 5000m is a confidence booster because it shows that she can win fast races. It was her final lap speed that enabled her to win the 10,000m at the world championships last year. In that race, she ousprinted Ethiopian miler Gelete Burka. And in fairness to Cherono, she was likely fatigued after chasing Almaz Ayana in Rome. The Ethiopian came within a whisker of breaking the world record.
New sensation Conseslus Kipruto has been in superb form in 2016. After living in the shadows of Ezekiel Kemboi, Jairus Birech and Brimin Kipruto, the young Conseslus has made the 3000m steepchase his domain this season. Today in Rome, he won with a superb time of 8:01.41, finishing about 60 metres ahead of the rest of the field. It was his fastest time of the year and his third win of the season having won by clocking 8:05.13 in Doha, and 8:02.77 in Rabat. His hurdling style appears completely inneficient compared to masters like Kemboi, but that does not seem to be an impediment to Kipruto this season
1 Kipruto , Conseslus KEN 8:01.41 10
2 Birech , Jairus Kipchoge KEN 8:11.39 6
3 Koech , Paul Kipsiele KEN 8:14.46 4
4 Kowal , Yoann FRA 8:17.83 3
5 Kebenei , Stanley Kipkoech USA 8:18.52 2
6 Yego , Hillary Kipsang KEN 8:19.01 1
7 Zalewski , Krystian POL 8:19.91
8 Tabti , Bilal ALG 8:20.26
9 Leslie , Cory USA 8:20.43
10 Tolosa , Jiksa ETH 8:21.33
11 Kemboi , Ezekiel KEN 8:24.26
12 Koech , John Kibet BRN 8:24.81
13 Kipsang , Lawrence Kemboi KEN 8:26.06
14 Kipruto , Brimin Kiprop KEN 8:29.54
15 Milne , Taylor CAN 8:30.04
Ezekiel Kemboi finished 11th and could be nearing the end of his career. On the other hand, Paul Kipsiele Koech continues to show amazing consistency. This is his 14th season as a professional runner and he continues to feature among the top 5 steeplechasers in the world. He finished 3rd in this race.
Manangoi in first Diamond League win
Another new sensation Elijah Manangoi scored his first ever win the Diamond League on Friday June 3. It happened at the Rome Golden gala meet. Manangoi who won a silver medal behind Asbel Kiprop at the 2015 world championship, was favoured in this race given the absence of Asbel Kiprop. Manangoi did not dissapoint. He took the lead once the rabbots dropped out of the race and never relinquished his lead. Ryan Gregson of Australia challenged Manangoi at the final bend but the latter had too much petrol left in the tank. He won in 3:33.96. Compatriot Robert Biwott passed Gregson at the finish line to finish second in 3:34.21. Silas Kiplagat was fourth.
1 Manangoi , Elijah Motonei KEN 3:33.96 10
2 Biwott , Robert Kiptoo KEN 3:34.21 6
3 Gregson , Ryan AUS 3:34.27 4
4 Kiplagat , Silas KEN 3:34.49 3
5 Wote , Aman ETH 3:35.10 2
6 Birgen , Bethwell KEN 3:35.36 1
7 O'Hare , Chris GBR 3:35.37
8 Carvalho , Florian FRA 3:35.39
9 Tesfaye , Homiyu GER 3:35.44
10 Amdouni , Morhad FRA 3:35.58
11 Philibert-Thiboutot , Charles CAN 3:36.00
12 Ingebrigtsen , Henrik NOR 3:36.07
13 Wolde , Dawit ETH 3:37.41
14 Cheboi , Collins KEN 3:38.29
15 Abdikadar Sheik Ali , Mohad ITA 3:38.74
Kipkoech , Nicholas Kiplangat KEN DNF
Rotich , Andrew Kiptoo KEN DNF
Mercy Cherono finished second in the women’s 5000m with a time of 14:33.95. The winner was Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia who clocked 14:12.59 and was within a whisker of breaking the world record.
2013 world 800m champion, Eunice Sum looks completely out of sorts this season. She finished in 10th position, nearly 6 seconds behind the winner, Caster Semenya of South Africa. Sum does not look like she is in the kind of running shape she has been for the past three seasons.
Kipyegon looks like she means business as she took off at the bell for yet another convincing win
After breaking the Kenya record in Shanghai two weeks ago, miler Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon once again put on a dominant performance to win the women’s 1500m at the 2016 Prefontaine meet in Eugene Oregon. This time she clocked 3:56.41 which is also the best time in the world this year. She put on a superb peformance that saw her finish almost twentu metres ahead of the field. In the process, she towed Dawit Seyaum and 19-year-old Gudaf Tsegay over the last lap, to personal bests of 3:58.10 and 4:00.18.
Asbel Kiprop wins Bowerman Mile
Asbel Kiprop continued his fine form in 2016 when he won the men’s metric mile albeit in an underwhelming time of 3:51.96. Kiprop beat a strong field that included Abdilaati Iguider. The Moroccan took the lead at the back stretch but Kiprop followed closely before powering away in the last straight.
“I feel good,” said the always serious Kiprop, squarely meeting this reporter’s gaze. “However, I’m a little bit disappointed because I wanted to run my personal best here today. It didn’t happen.” said Kiprop after the race.
Iguider finished second (3:51.96) and Kenya’s Elijah Manangoi clinched third in 3:52.39.
Hellen Obiri sets new personal best
Obiri wins the 2016 PreFontaine Classic
Hellen Obiri, who missed the entire 2015 season while on maternity leave, set a new personal best in winning the women’s 5000m in 14.03.02. She led a Kenyan 1-2-3-4 finish: She was followed home by Viola Kibiwott, Mercy Cherono and Vivian Cheruiyot.
Obiri who clocked 3:59 in the 1500m two weeks ago, looks like she could be medal contender in both the 1500 and 5000m at the Rio Olympics.
Kiyeng Breaks Kenya record as Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet almost breaks world record
Nineteen year old Ruth Jebet, who now represents Bahrain, came within a whisker of breaking the world record in the 3000m steeplechase. Jebet once again took off at a torrid pace and ammased a large lead by the bell by which time she was on world record pace. Then Hyvin Kiyeng started to cut into the lead. By the last barrier it looked like Kiyeng would catch her but Jebet held on to win in 8:59.97 just outside of Gulnara Gulkina’s world record of 8:58.81. Kiyeng clocked 9:00.01 and in the process smashed the existing Kenya record, previously held by Eunice Jepkorir
Wilson Sitonik Malel finished second to Mo Farah of Great Britain in the men’s 10,000m. Frah won in 26.53.71 while Sitonik set a new personal best in 26:54.66.
Ferguson Cheruiyot finished second in the men’s 800m while Geoffrey Kamworor also took second in the 5000m.
In the men’s Javelin, Julius Yego finished second to Egyptian Ihad Abdelrahman. Yego’s toss was 84.68, while the Egyptian achieved a throw of 87.37
South African middle distance runner Caster Semenya first burst into the limelight at the 2009 world athletics championships. She won the gold medal with relative ease, finishing almost twenty metres ahead of the rest of the field. And she made it look easy. At the time Semenya was only 18. There were some concerns from fellow athletes and many fans due to the fact that Semenya seemed to have a genetic advantage. Semenya immediately fell under gender scrutiny. Reports of her elevated testosterone levels were leaked as were the aggrieved charges of fellow runners. Is she a man or a woman, race officials and the public wondered. In a bid to assuage the public the IAAF, began a series of gender tests.
The test results were leaked to the media a week after the 2009 world championships. They showed Semenya is actually intersex, meaning she has both male and female characteristics. Newspaper reports said she has internal testicles and lacks ovaries or a uterus. Most importantly, it was reported that Semenya’s testosterone levels with three times higher than those of a normal woman.
The IAAF ruled that Semenya and other athletes with similar conditions must take other hormones as balance. Since when, she slipped down the rankings. Semenya took Olympic silver in 2012 but, while she remained a fine athlete, she was no longer exceptional. Other athletes required to undeRgo such treatment included Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi who is also a an 800m runner.
Then, in July 2015, an Indian sprinter, Dutee Chand, won a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Chand also has naturally-occurring high testosterone, but her lawyers argued it was discrimination to not allow her to make the most of genetic advantages.
The IAAF were charged with proving that Chand’s hormones made her closer to a male competitor than female, and they could not. The CAS has now suspended the rule that requires intersex athletes to take hormonal treatments.
Since the rule was suspended, Semenya has been on a tear, regaining the form that saw her destroy the field at the 2009 world championships. At the South African championships she won the 400m, 800m and the 1500m which is unprecedented. Her time in the 400m was 50.74 which was the fastest in the world at the time and almost a second faster than the Kenya record that is held by Ruth Waithera (51.56).
However it is the women’s 800, that Semenya is set to dominate again. At the Rabat Grand Prix, Semenya won easily in 1:56.85. Francine Niyonsaba had stepped aside from the track for the last two years has also made a return thanks to the court ruling.
Both Semenya and Niyonsaba who is also a hyperandrogenic athlete finished 15 metres ahead of the rest of the field. Eunice Sum was well beaten in fourth position. Semenya won the race rather easily and looks like she could have run in the 1:53 range if she tried. The world record of 1:53.28 that was set by Czech legend Jarmila Kratochilova in 1983 appears to be within Semenya’s reach.
Kenya 29 Portugal 14
Tries: Injera, Ayodi(2), Wanyama
Conversions: Oliech, Injera
Kenya 12 Scotland 24
Conversions: Oliech, Injera
Kenya 12 France 29
Try: Amonde, Injera
Kenya 19 Wales 21
Tries: Oyoo(2), Injera
Kenya 38 Brazil 5
Try: Ambaka(2), Oliech, Injera, Odhiambo, Aringo
Conversion: Oliech (4)
Kenya 31 Russia 7
Try: Ambaka, Injera(2), Oyoo(2), Oliech, , Odhiambo, Aringo
Conversion: Oliech (4)
Robert Eugene Aringo
Frank Lawrence Wanyama
Lugonzo Augustine Ligamy
Lamech Billy Odhiambo
Alex Mahaga Olaba
Nelson Odhiambo Oyoo
William Ambaka Ndayara
Collins Injera reached a huge milestone when he broke the all time try scorer record for the IRB sevens series. The previous record was held by Santiago Gomez Cora at 230. Against France above Injera reached 231 tries. By the end of the London tournament, Injera had 235 tries
On May 3 Reese Odhiambo became the second Kenyan born player to join a team in the American National Football league. But he became the first Kenyan to be directly drafted from a college team. Each year, NFL teams draft (select) the best players from the college ranks. Odhiambo was drafted by the
Seattle Seahawks in the third round of the draft. Note that Daniel Adongo was not drafted. He came in as a free agent. Odhiambo is indeed the first Kenyan to be drafted. Which means he is much better prepared for the rigours of the NFL than Adongo was.
Odhiambo played for Boise State University. He was not expected to be drafted until the 6th round. This is because while he has been outstanding, he has also been injury prone. The excerpt below is the NFL experts analysis of Odhiambo’s abilities:
The native of Kenya has been impressive over the past three years when healthy, displaying pro-caliber footwork and a solid anchor in pass protection while earning All-Conference honors the past two years (second-team in 2014, first-team in 2015). However, Odhiambo (pronounced AH-dee-AHM-bo) has not been able to start more than nine games in any season due to injuries (he broke his ankle in this seasons ninth game). Still, whether he serves as an undersized tackle or proves strong enough to move inside (like former Boise State LT Daryn Colledge), Odhiambo has starter-quality skills.
In college, Odhiambo played as an offensive tackle. In the NFL, Odhiambo is projected to play as an offensive guard. Both positions are fairly similar. His primary task is to protect the quarterback (passer) from defenders who are trying to tackle him. He is also responsible for creating openings for the running backs by blocking opposing defenders.
Odhiambo was born in Nairobi. His father passed away when he was six. At age seven he moved to Texas, USA. when he was 7. His father died the year before the move and his mother died when he was 17.
“I just say we had a good support system and a lot of the lessons I learned from my mom just kind of carried over in those times, and through everything she taught me took me a lot further than I ever realized,” he said.
Odhiambo attended Mansfield high school in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where he started to play the sport during his sophomore year (form 2). He excelled immediately earning. By his senior year, he was named to the all conference team. He also excelled academically and was named one of the best student-sportsmen in his school district.
He was then recruited by Boise State University in Idaho. He was a key contributor for Boise State starting in his freshman year (first year). By his
senior year (fourth year), he was an all conference player.
Odhiambo is 6’4″ tall (193 cm) and weights 310 pounds (140 kilos)
As the world gears up for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Kenyan runners have sent out early indications of what the world should expect at the Olympics. Faith Kipyegon set a new Kenya record in the 1500m with a time of 3:56.82. Kipyegon who set a new Africa mile record in 2015 and won the silver medal at the world championships, took the lead with 500m to go and continued to increase her lead, finishing well ahead of the field.
Hellen Obiri, who missed 2015 while on maternity leave, has made a strong comeback and finished second in 3:59.34 and Dawit Seyaum of Wthiopia was third in 3:59.87.
In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, world champion Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi picked up from where she left off in 2015, winning the race in a personal best time of 9:07.42. This is the 6th fastest time ever run and the 3rd fastest ever by a Kenyan behind Milcah Chemos and Eunice Jepkorir.
Fellow Kenyan Ruth Jebet, now running for Bahrain was second in 9:15.48, a good eight seconds behind Kiyeng. Sofia Assefa was third while Virginia Nganga of Kenya was fourth. Jebet set a torrid pace and looked like she would take the race. At the bell she was 10 metres ahead of Kiyeng. But she ran out of gas and Kiyeng shifted gears in the last lap to pass Jebet who finished second despite stumbling and falling on one of the hurdles.
In the men’s 800m , Ferguson Rotich Cheruiyot won in 1:45.68. Pre-race favourite David Rudisha finished a disappointing 6th in 1:46.24. He may have been affected by the confusion at the start of the race. Half the runners did not react to the starting gun including Rudisha. Still Rudisha took the lead at the 200m mark and led until the 600m mark when Rotich passed him.
Ferguson Rotich was the surprise winner
Twenty year old Robert Biwott was second in 1:45.84. Kenya has had a drought of 800m runners and the youthful Biwott could be the man to take over the mantle of Kenya’s hopes in future meets. This is especially if he chooses to focus on the 800m which is clearly his better race. Last year he mostly ran in the 1500m, a race he has less hope of excelling in given the presence of Asbel Kiprop, Elijah Manangoi and others.
World 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett, hard pressed to prove he is not a one hit wonder, finished 6th in the race with a time of 49.31. Michael Tinsley of the USA won the race in 48.90. Another Kenyan in the race, Boniface Tumuti was 9th in 50.16
In the men’s 5000m, Kenya’s Thomas Longosiwa was third in 13:01.69. The race was on by Mukhtar Edris of Ethiopia in 12:59.96. Edwin Soi was the next Kenyan and was in 6th place at the finish line.
On April-22-2016, Eliud Kipchoge beat a very strong field to win th 2016 London Marathon. The field included two former world record holders: Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto, plus New York Marathon winner Stanley Biwott, not to mention Ethiopian track legend Kenenisa Bekele. In the process, Kipchoge ran a new course record in 2:03:05 which is the third fastest marathon time ever. The course record is impressive considering that the London marathon typically attracts the best runners years after year.
Kipchoge with second placed finisher Stanley Biwott and third placed Kenenisa Bekele
Kipchoge left the track to pursue a career running the 42km event in 2013. Ever since he made the switch, his running career has been nothing short of stellar: He has run seven marathons, winning six of them and finishing second in one. Below are his results and times:
The fact that he has won six of his first marathons is impressive as is the fact that all his seven marathons have been run in under 2:05:30 and his last four marathons were all in the 2:04 – 2:03 range. The only marathon he never won was in Berlin in 2013 when Wilson Kipsang set a new world record. It was only Kipchoge’s second marathon.
And Kipchoge would have broken the world record in London had be been informed that the world record was within reach when he crossed the 40 km mark. It would have required a 4:29 mile, something Kipchoge is quite capable of. No wonder he reacted in dismay when he realized how close he was to the world record.
Kipchoge reacted in dismay when he saw that he missed the world record by a whisker
Kipchoge was excellent on the track. He first came to the consciousness of the public in 2003 when as an 18 year old, he won the 5000m at the world championships, beating Kenenisa Bekele and Hicham el Guerrouj. Though he had an impressive record on the track, he has certainly found his niche in the 26 mile race. He now has two options to cement his legacy as the greatest marathoner ever. Either win the Olympic gold in Rio or go for the world record in record friendly Berlin in September.