Purity Kirui leads Kenya clean sweep in steeplechase

Purity Kirui and Milcah Chemos lead the pack

Kenya’s strong tradition in the 3000m steeplechase for men, was upheld by their female counterparts. Purity Kirui took gold in a time of 9:30.36 and led two other Kenyans team-mates Milcah Chemos Cheywa who came to the games on a wildcard was second in 9:31.30 and Joan Kipkemoi took bronze in 9:33.34 to complete a podium sweep.

The win by Kirui who was the 2012 world junior champion was Kenya’s 5th gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth games and Kenya’s second podium sweep.

And it was a mirror image of 2010 when Kenya also swept the medal podium. In 2010 in Delhi, Chemos led Njoroge and Gladys Kipkemoi to the podium sweep as Kenyan became the first nation to repeat a medal sweep at the women’s water and barriers race at the Commonwealth.

The Kenyan trio shook off the competition at the bell. With 50m to go, Kirui and Chemos went stride for stride, with Chemos, on the outside and Kirui on the inside. Chemos put on a determined fight but the younger Kirui found the extra gear and resolve over the last 20m to grab gold.

The fight for bronze was just as epic as Kipkemoi had to fend off the fast finishing Australian pair of Madeline Heiner and Genevieve Lacaze who timed 9:34.01 and 9:44.65, for bronze, only a second second ahead of the fourth finisher.

Is Purity Kirui the future ?

Milcah Chemos who won this event at the 2010 edition was gunning to retain her title. But given that she has had an underwhelming 2014 season, its possible to conclude that at age 28, we may have seen the best of her, barring a miraculous comeback in 2015. This leaves Purity Kirui as Kenya’s biggest hope in this event. At age 22, Purity has a promising future in this event. And Kenya will need her to step forward and carry the mantle of Kenyan hopes now that the Ethiopians Ayalew and Assefa as well as the  American Emma Coburn have suddenly have world beaters and dominated this event in the diamond league.


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Commonwealth games: Kipyegon bags 1500m gold

20 year old Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, a former world junior cross country champion and former world junior champion, is living up to the promise she showed as a youth. On Tuesday she won a thrilling women’s 1500m final in 4:08.94.

The field was bunched together with 1200m left. Kipyegon then started to create separation. She led into the final straight with compatriot Hellen Obiri close behind. But while Kipyegon powered to the gold medal, Obiri faded badly to finish in 6th place. .Obiri’s performance has been waning badly after she started the season with a bang in Doha followed by a famous win over Abeba Aregawi in Oregon.


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Kenya clean sweep commonwealth games 10,000m

For this first time in Commonwealth Games history, Kenya claimed a clean sweep of the medals in the women’s 10,000m.The gold medal winner was Joyce Chepkirui.

The trio of Kenyans, Florence Kiplagat, Joyce Chepkirui and Emily Chebet broke away from the rest of the field with six laps left. They stayed together until there was 200m left. Then, former world cross-country and world half marathon champion Kiplagat made her move. She appeared on course for the gold but Chepkirui passed her at the last gasp to take gold in 32:09.35.

“I am the African champion, but I have never really won a big championship like this,” said Chepkirui

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World Juniors: Kenya bags two more golds to finish second

Kenya finished second overall in the medal table when they won two more gold medals on the last day of the IAAF world Junior athletics championships.

Alfred Kipketer blows the field away

Alfred Kipketer went into this race as the hot favourite given his personal best. He lived up to that billing when he blew away the field and in the process almost set a new championship record.

He led the field through 400m in a phenomenally fast 49.42, then showed everyone else a clean pair of heels over the second lap. His new record of win in a world junior leading 1:43.95, was just 0.16 away from the championship best of 1:43.79 set by Botswana’s Nijel Amos in Barcelona two years ago.

Alfred Kipketer at 17 is showing signs of following in the footsteps of the legendary Wilson Kipketer who also excelled at the world junior championships.

Joshua Masikonde, also of Kenya, was second in 1:45.14 and the first seven men home all registered personal best times.

3000m steeplechase : Another Kenya 1-2

Kenya maintained its dominance in the water jump event when Barnabas Kipyego and Titus Kibiego went 1-2. Barnabas Kipyego turned the tables on his more highly rated sprinted past the more highly rated compatriot Titus Kibiego to win in 8:25.57 with Kibiego second in 8:26.15.

Final Medal Table


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Kenya bags two gold on day 3 of world junior champs

Kenya finally got its first gold medals of the 2014 IAAF world junior championships. The medals came on the 3rd day of the event.

Margaret Nyairera Wambui upsets fancied Cuban

Margaret Wambui came out of virtual anonymity to run the race of her life in winning the 800 metres at the IAAF world junior championships. She broke her personal best by three seconds which she had set in her semi-final, as she won over two laps of the track in an African youth best of 2:00.49.

Prior to the championship, Sahily Diago of Cuba was seen as the hot favourite due to her brilliant performance in the IAAF Diamond league. However it was the previously unknown 17-year-old Wambui who sprinted away from the Cuban Cuba’s. Wambui attacked with 70 metres left to claim Kenya’s fourth junior title in the women’s 800m but the first one in 12 years.

Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe bags gold in the 1500m

Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe continued Kenya’s strong tradition in this event when he bagged Kenya’s second gold medal of the evening. He powered away from compatriot and defending champion Hillary Cheruiyot Ngetich in the final 100m of the men’s 1500m to win in 3:40.02.

Ngetich,finished third in 3:41.61after being passed by Djibouti’s Abdi Waiss Mouhyadin in the final few metres, as the latter got the silver in 3:41.38.

Lilian Rengeruk takes silver in the 3000m

Lilian Rengeruk, who had won gold at the 2013 world youth championships, settled for silver this time in the women’s 3000m. The winner was American phenom Mary Cain who fed off the thunderous home ground support to run away from the Kenyan duo of Rengeruk and Valentina Chepkwemoi Mateiko.

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Kenya Squad for the 2014 World Junior Championships

The Bi-annual World Junior Championships will be held in Oregon starting on July 22. Kenya has an excellent record in this event. Ever since its inception in 1986, Kenya has always finished among the top 4. Only the United States has won more gold medals than Kenya.

This year as is always the case, the Ethiopians will be Kenya’s primarily challengers. But Kenya is armed with a strong squad including three runners who won gold medals at the world youth championships in 2013 :  Lillian Kasait Rengeruk, Alfred Kipketer and Roseline Chepngetich,.

Lilian Rengeruk runs a lap of honor after winning a gold medal at the 2014 world youth championships

“I want to get a gold in Eugene. It is my last event as a junior. Not so many athletes have a chance to compete twice under this category. It will work well to boost my resume as I progress to the senior level,” said Kipketer on Tuesday in Nairobi.

Kenya Squad



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Eswi yo wapi by Mbilia Bel (Translated)

The phrase Eswi Yo wapi is the Lingal equivalent of “How does this concern you . In Kiswahili, the equivalent phrase is “Pili pili usiyoila yakuwashia nini” ?

This was one of the earliest songs Mbilia Bel sung. She was approximately 22 years old at the time. As with many Mbilia Bel songs of this period, this one was composed by Tabu Ley. The song is about a woman who tells the man she used to be involved with to leave her alone. He had a chance to take care of her and he did not.

Tika ngai na vanda na ngai Tika ngai na benda nzoto Obandi kopanza na basango bipayi biso likambo oh ngai na nani eh

Africa Music Centre
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Silas Kiplagat sets diamond league record

Silas Kiplagat produced the most thrilling performance of the evening when he out-sprinted compatriot Asbel Kiprop to win the 1500m at the Herculis Diamond league meet in Monaco. In the process he stole the thunder of Kiprop who had announced that he was going for the world record. Kiplagat also became the 4th fastest 1500m runner in history with a time of 3:27.64 behind only Hicham El Guerrouj, Bernard Lagat and Nourredine Morceli.

Kiplagat was elated and hinted that he would also mount an attempt on the world record. “I have the fast time now, but why not be faster and attack the world record?” he said. “I’m still young and ready to train for it. I always run well here, so I’m thinking my win and result is no surprise. I was aware I can do it.”

Kiprop for his part conceded defeat. At 1200m I knew the race was too slow,” said Kiprop. “We went through in 2.47 and I had asked for 2.45. In the home straight, I could see the others behind me on the big screen and I knew they would get back on me. I could see Silas coming closer and closer. It was a tough race.”

Rudisha slumps to 5th place

Last week we excitedly announced that Rudisha was back to his imperious form after 1 year off with an injury. However it appears that he still has a long way to go. He  finished 5th in a race that was won by Nijel Amos who curiously had lost to Asbel Kiprop in the 800m two weeks ago.

As usual Rudisha ran behind his favourite pacemaker Sammy Tangui and took over the lead at the 400m mark. he kept the lead until the 700m mark when Nijel Amos caught up with him and surged. Rudisha had no answer for the surge. Amos won a season leading 1:42.45

The other Kenyan, Ferguson Rotich Cheruiyot, finished fourth in a personal best of 1:42.84. Rudisha was 5th in 1:42.98 , a season’s best for him.

Rudisha will have to contend with Amos again during the forthcoming Commonwealth games.

Jairus Birech continues impressive run

Kenya’s Jairus Birech continued his domination in the steeplechase Friday, winning his fourth straight DL steeple to clinch the Diamond Race title. Even more impressively, Birech did all the front running on his own. He later complained that the pace makers were too slow. Birech won in 8:03.33  , a massive 6 seconds ahead of Conselus Kipruto who was second in 8:09.81. Hillary Yego won in 8:10.23.

Sum beaten to second place

One of the biggest casualties of the evening was Eunice Sum who was beaten by American Ajee Wilson. The high flying Sum has dominated this race ever since she surprised everyone by winning the world championships last year.

Sum had the lead with 100m left but Wilson passed her at the final bend. A key difference between the two was Wilson’s smooth movement and economy of motion as opposed to Sum who was wasting a lot of energy flailing her arms and running with a jerky motion.

In the women’s 5000m , the fastest Kenyan was Viola Kibiwot who finished 3rd in 14:33.73. Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia won in a world leading 14:28.88. Sally Kipyego and Betsy Saina finished 4th and 5th respectively.

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David Rudisha is really back as and Silas Kiplagat also wins

Days prior to the 800m race at the Sainsbury Diamond league meet in Glasgow, David Rudisha had promised to deliver a world leading time. He did just that when he clocked 1:43.34. He now holds the year’s fastest time along with compatriot Asbel Kiprop.

Pacemaker Sammy Tangui had run the first 400m in 49.94. Rudisha followed right behind him and took over after Tangui dropped off. The lead pack chased but Rudisha opened the gap and finished with a blistering 53 second last lap that brought the crowd to its feet.

Silas Kiplagat too good for everyone

Silas Kiplagat completely outclassed the rest of the field in the men’s 1500m. He won in 3:32.84 with a 54-second last lap.He was even able to slow down significantly in the last 50 metres. Kiplagat hasfinished 1st or 2nd in every race he has entered this year

Nixon Chepseba who was among the top miles just two years ago finished seventh and is having extreme difficulty regaining the form he displayed in 2012.

Soi finishes 3rd in the 5000m

Edwin Soi who ran a world-leading 12:59.82 to win in Paris, was well beaten into third place in 13:13.52. The race was won by Hagos Gebrhiwet. Yenew Alamirew completed an Ethiopia 1-2.

Its not surprising because Edwin Soi has never been consistent. He is quite capable of runing brilliantly in one race then falter completely in the next one. Tactical racing is not his strong suite. Nevertheless 3rd place is creditable.

Concern for Milcah Chemos and Hellen Obiri

In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Milcah Chemos ran her fastest time of the year, 9:21.91 but it was only good enough for third place. Hiwot Ayalew won 9:10.64 with Emma Coburn of the USA second.

Milcah Chemos has been dominating this event for the past few years and will need to significantly improve to regain her top position.

Hellen Obiri who started the year with a bang, continued her downward slide when she finished 8th in the 1500m in 4:05.26  , a good 5 seconds behind the winner, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.

The sudden poor form of Obiri and Chemos should worry Kenya fans who are looking forward to the commonwealth games.


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Build Kenya rugby from the ground up, not top down

Humphrey Kayange steps off the field after the disappointing loss to Zimbabwe


The dust finally settled on Kenya’s dramatic failure to qualify for the 2015 rugby world cup. This was the first time Kenya came close to getting to the global tournament and after the first two matches, Kenya seemed on track, only to falter against Zimbabwe on the last day.

Much has been said about Kenya’s failings in their last match against Zimbabwe. But not much justice has been done to understanding the underlying reasons why Kenya seems to falter against Zimbabwe and Namibia at crucial times.

Too much focus on the senior level

KRFU chairman Mwangi Muthee once declared that paying the Kenya rugby sevens team professional salaries would automatically enable them to challenge the top teams on the globe such as New Zealand. However evidence from the 2014 season suggests that this simply is not the case. In fact the 2009 team that was paid peanuts in comparison had a better record: They reached the semi-finals in two legs and made it to the finals of the New Zealand leg. Not to mention that they reached the semis at the 2009 world cup.

In the fifteeens game, the senior team has benefited from enormous sponsorship that enabled them to play in the 2014 Vodacom cup. This is a good thing. However too much focus on the senior level at the expense of youth development has been detrimental to Kenya rugby.

Namibia and Zimbabwe have much better youth structures.

It is a fact that Kenya is not much of a factor at the youth levels. Namibia and Zimbabwean junior rugby teams have dominated at the continental level. They have much better structures at junior and youth levels. The rugby infrastructure at schools in Zimbabwe and Namibia is much better than anything that can be found in Kenya even at senior level. With better coaching, better facilities and simply better youth structures, it comes as no surprise that both Zimbabwe and Namibia produce higher calibre players at senior level.

In Zimbabwe for example, they have schools with traditionally strong rugby programs such as Prince Edward school, Falcon College , St Johns college and Peterhouse all of which recruit the best rugby players from across the country and expose them to the best coaching for a period of six years. Peterhouse alumni include players like Tendai Mtawarira and Brian Mujati both of whom have played for the Springboks, Scott Gray who played for Scotland as well as the legendary Tsimba brothers one of whom was once considered the best flyhalf in the Currie cup.

In this pic, Peterhouse takes on Falcon college in Zim schools rugby

The fact that just one school can produce so many high calibre players who are capable of playing at the highest levels is a testament to the level of coaching that exists in Zimbabwe schools and is completely missing from the Kenyan setup. Take Daniel Adongo for example. He had immense physical gifts that any Zimbabwean can only dream of. Yet according to New Zealand legend Tana Umaga who coached Adongo in New Zealand, Adongo was supremely talented but lacked rugby sense and had a learning curve that was too steep. You can bet any amount of money that if Adongo had attended Peterhouse or Prince Edward in Zimbabwe, he would be a Springbok by now.

Zimbabwe takes youth development seriously enough that they send a U-18 team to the Craven week every year. Craven week is South Africa’s top schools rugby tournament and features the best South African rugby schools including schools like Grey College and Paarl gym which have produced more Springboks than any other.

Kenya has far more players than Zim and Namibia but…………

According to the IRB website, Kenya has twice the number of registered players as Zimbabwe and three times as many as Namibia. However it is not the quantity that matters but the quality. Though more people play rugby in Kenya, the calibre of players is lower due to poor or in-existent or insufficient coaching at youth levels.

The KRFU receives huge sponsorship moneys from various companies such as Bamburi Cement, Tusker, Kenya Airways and so forth. Unfortunately all this money is concentrated at senior level. For Kenya to develop a level of consistency at senior level, the KRFU will need to invest significantly in youth development.

The country needs to select a few schools in the country and invest in proper rugby facilities such as scrum machines to be housed at these schools. They should then recruits school age boys and girls who have potential to succeed and send them to these rugby development centres. Doing this is the only way Kenya rugby can move to the next level. At present, Kenya junior teams are no match for Zimbabwe or Namibia. This is the root of our problems.  When Kenya rugby teams are able to compete favourably with the like of Namibia then we will know that the country is on its way to a higher level of success.

The sevens landscape is no different. The fact that the Kenya Under 18 team recently lost to their South African counterparts by fifty points ought to tell the powers that be that much more needs to be done to develop players at youth level. Unless these actions are undertaken, the Kenya sevens team will be doomed to lose heavily each time they play South Africa, Fiji or Australia.


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