Syombua with storming leg as Kenya wins relay bronze

Success!!

The Kenyan mixed relay quartet were the only Kenyan medalists at the 2019 IAAF world relays that were held in Yokohama Japan. The team of Jared Momanyi, Maureen Thomas, Hellen Syombua and Aaron Koech finished third in 3:19.43

Jared Momanyi started Kenya off with a solid leg, handing off to Maureen Thomas who kept Kenya in contention and in sixth place. Hellen Syombua then took over and ran a storming third leg despite being impeded by a Brazilian competitor. She took Kenya from sixth place to 3rd place and had to dig deep over her last fifty metres to maintain Kenya’s position. Aaron Koech then took over and solidified Kenya’s position, increasing the distance between himself and the other contenders for the bronze.

It was an impressive performance as Kenya beat out other traditional relay giants like Poland, Germany and Italy. It is the first time that Kenya has won a medal in a global relay event since 1993 when the Kenya 4 X 400m quartet of Samson Kitur, Simon Kemboi, Abednego Matilu and Kennedy Ochieng won the silver medal at the world championships.

Race Video

Race Results

POS BIB Team COUNTRY MARK Points Reaction Time
1 USA United States  USA 3:16.43 8 0.143
2 CAN Canada  CAN 3:18.15 7 0.149
3 KEN Kenya  KEN 3:19.43 6 0.183
4 ITA Italy  ITA 3:20.28 5 0.127
5 POL Poland  POL 3:20.65 4 0.187
6 BRA Brazil  BRA 3:20.71 3 0.164
7 GER Germany  GER 3:22.26 2 0.205
8 BEL Belgium  BEL 3:25.74 1 0.194

 

Other Results

The Kenya 4 X 200m team of Mark Odhiambo, Mike Mokamba, Samuel Chege and Alphas Kishoyian finished in a creditable fourth position, barely missing out on a medal. Their female counterparts Eunice Kadogo, Millicent Ndoro, Joan Cherono and Freshia Mwangi were disqualified after a baton exchange mishap.

Kenya finished in 13th overall position. Not bad considering that there were no distance relay events. Kenya were the highest placed African country, ahead of Sprint giants South Africa who were 14th. None of the other African teams won anything.

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Obiri, Manangoi, brilliant in Doha

Hellen Obiri’s brilliant start to the 2019 season continued in Doha on Friday. Earlier in the season, Obiri was one of the few bright spots for Kenya at the 2019 World Cross country championships. She continued along those lines in the women’s 3000m, fighting off a strong challenge from Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia.

She took the lead at the bell with Dibaba breathing down her neck. Dibaba made several attempts to pass Obiri in the last time. But Obiri kept switching gears to fend off the Ethiopian who eventually gave up in the last 30 metres.

Compatriot Lilian Kasait Rengeruk, put on a spririted last lap to move from sixth position into third position.

Race Results

POS ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK Points
1 Hellen Obiri  KEN 8:25.60 8
2 Genzebe Dibaba  ETH 8:26.20 7
3 Lilian Kasait Rengeruk  KEN 8:29.02 6
4 Beatrice Chepkoech  KEN 8:29.83 5
5 Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui  KEN 8:29.89 4
6 Gloriah Kite  KEN 8:29.91 3
7 Gudaf Tsegay  ETH 8:30.65 2
8 Yasemin Can  TUR 8:33.29 1
9 Lemlem Hailu  ETH 8:34.03
10 Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi  KEN 8:34.65

The men’s 1500m was thoroughly and completely dominated by Kenyans. Elijah Manangoi was very convincing as he won in 3:32.21, beating compatriot Timothy Cheruiyot, who beat him several times in 2018 and dominated this event. Kenyans occupied the top seven positions.

Race Results

POS ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK Points
1 Elijah Motonei Manangoi  KEN 3:32.21 8
2 Timothy Cheruiyot  KEN 3:32.47 7
3 Bethwell Birgen  KEN 3:33.12 6
4 Vincent Kibet  KEN 3:33.21 5
5 Charles Cheboi Simotwo  KEN 3:33.31 4
6 Ronald Kwemoi  KEN 3:33.99 3
7 George Meitamei Manangoi  KEN 3:34.00 2
8 Brahim Kaazouzi  MAR 3:34.57 1
9 Ryan Gregson  AUS 3:35.10
10 Abdelaati Iguider  MAR 3:36.28

 

Other Results

Emmanuel Korir finished second in the 800m, losing to arch rival Nijel Amos of Botswana. Another Kenyan Jonathan Kitilit was 5th. Wycliffe Kinyamal who had a brilliant 2018 season, was 8th.

In the women’s 800,Nelly Jepkosegi was fourth, a good four seconds behind the winner, Caster Semenya of South Africa.

The men’s steeplechase, an event that Kenya has dominated for the past 3 decades is now in danger of slipping out of Kenya’s hands. With Conseslus Kipruto injured, the best placed Kenya was 3rd placed Leonard Bett who clocked 8:08.61

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Dunking Olivia Ododa: First Kenyan in women’s final four

In 2019 Olivia Nelson-Ododa was a freshman at the University of Connecticut, the most successful women’s college basketball team in recent years. During the 2019 season, U-Conn once again reached the final four with Ododa playing key roles in each of their games. Indeed Ododa was typically the first player off the bench for the U-Conn Huskies.She became the first person of Kenyan descent to play in the NCAA final four.

At 6’5″, she is a formidable presence in the middle, dominating with her athleticism, shot blocking ability and ability to rebound.

The University of Connecticut, being the top women’s basketball team in the United States, typically has a galaxy of stars in its roster. As such, playing time has been hard to come by. Nevertheless, Ododa has shown flashes of brilliance when given an opportunity.

The 2018-2019 season was her first season at UConn.She appeared in all 38 games, starting in 4 games, averaging 4.4 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game. She blocked 54 shots which was the second highest on the team.

Youth Career

She played in the USA under 18 team in 2018. At the FIBA Americas tournament, she started in four of six games and averaged 9.2 ppg. and 4.5 rpg. USA won all six games and the gold meda.

She played for the USA Under 17 team in 2016. At the FIBA U17 world championships, she started in all seven games, leading the team in scoring with 12.0 ppg, 9.4 rpg. and 1.7 bpg. USA won six games, lost one and finished third.

High School Career

She was a starter for the school team during all four years.

Year 1: Averaged 13.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg
Year 2: Averaged 17.7 ppg and 10.9 rpg
Year 3: Averaged 20.6 ppg and an incredible 21.1 rpg
Year4: Averaged 19.5 ppg and 15.9 rpg

She was voted the best player in the State of Georgia in 2018 and was selected as a second team All American and played in the annual McDonalds all star game that features the best high school players in the United States.

Kenyan Roots

Her father is Sebastian Onyango Ododa who starred in the Kenyan league in the mid 1980s, while playing for Posta. He played for Kenya at the 1987 All Africa games, helping the team reach the semi-finals.

He was one for the first Kenyans to come to the USA on a basketball scholarship. He played for Huntington College from 1988 to 1992. There he set records for career field goal percentage (62.6%) and season field goal percentage (65%) which he set in 1992.

 


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Eliud Kipchoge cements place as the greatest

Following his convincing victory in the 2019 London marathon in a time of 2:02:37, Eliud Kipchoge has left no doubt that he is the greatest marathon runner ever. Lets put things into perspective.

1. He has won 10 consecutive marathons. The next longest streak is 6 marathons by Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia.
2. He holds the world record at 2:01.39, is the only person ever to run under 2:02
3. He holds the two fastest times ever in the marathon.
4. He has been ranked world number one four times: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. No one else has come close. A host of others including Sammy Wanjiru were world number one twice.

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Asbel Kiprop’s fall is precipitous and calamitous

Never in the history of Kenya sports has an athlete gone from grace to disgrace in the manner that Asbel Kiprop has gone. Never has there been a more calamitous and precipitous fall.

It is calamitous because Kiprop is a big athlete, renown all over the world and one of the most recognizable Kenyan athletes. As such his positive doping test casts doubt not only on his own achievements but also those of other great Kenyan athletes.

It is precipitous because Kiprop was a man of great achievements. He is easily the most accomplished metric miler Kenya ever produced. He may not hold the Kenya record in the metric mile (that belongs to Bernard Lagat), nor the dream mile (that belongs to Bernard Lagat). But his achievements surpass those of any Kenyan miler in history.

  • 3 time world champion (2011, 2013, 2015)
  • Olympic gold medalist (2008)
  • Africa Champion (2010)
  • World cross country champion (2007 Junior Race)
  • All Africa games champion (2007)
  • IAAF world relay champion
  • Member of the world record setting 4 X 1500m team
  • 3rd fastest time ever in the 1500m

He showed amazing consistency over a period of nearly 10 years. Only for all that to be flushed down the drain by a positive doping test. Though his records and medals will not be erased, he has now lost chance of being considered an all time great. And all his performances are now in doubt. People will ask which if any of his performances were legit and which ones were aided by drugs.

Kiprop, understanding this, was on social media defending his past performances.

And this is the shame of it all. The man was clearly talented. His talents were obvious when he first appeared on the scene in 2007, winning the world cross country title in commanding fashion with not a challenger in site. A year later he would win Olympic gold after the original winner , the ex Moroccan Bahraini Rachid Ramzy was disqualified for doping.

By 2016, Kiprop had accomplished a lot and had he even retired, he would have left as an all time great. And he likely has made enough money which if well invested, can last him the rest of his life.

By 2017, Kiprop’s performance had started to wane. This is likely because after a decade of running at the top level, his body had started to break down. This is normal. Few if any athletes are able to keep injuries at bay for 5 years much less 10 as Kiprop did.

It is possible that he started to use EPO when his performances started to wane. Which is a shame because that lapse of judgment has cost him his legacy and any future money making opportunities including sponsorship and endorsements.

Such is not the case with other athletes who were caught doping. There are Kenyan athletes who have come out of nowhere and in their late 20s, started to win major city marathon’s even setting world records or course records. Such a progression is completely abnormal and when they did fail doping tests, it came as no surprise. But Kiprop’s doping positive is such a shame because he was clearly talented enough to win without doping.

Meltdown

Kiprop put up a spirited defence but it was to no avail and he was handed 4 year van. After the 4 year ban, Kiprop was in distress, posting threatening messages on twitter.

Poor Judgment

And in hindisght Kiprop’s lapse in judgment is not shocking. He has had previous run-ins with the law and societal norms which made many question his judgment.

In 2018 he was in a love affair with the wife of his pacemaker, Michael Rotich and even posted a video of the two of them together in a compromising situation.

In 2014, it was reported that he kidnapped his ex-partner Sammary Cherotich at gunpoint and threatened to kill her.  Cherotich stated that he has been abused and physically and emotionally several times by Kiprop. It is worth noting that she had a promising running career after having been world junior champion. But Kiprop got her pregnant at 16. Kiprop was 19 at the time. The pregnancy ended Cherotich’s running career.

Also in 2014, Kiprop who is also a police officer,allegedly entered into a bar in Iten town on Sunday night past the stipulated drinking hours and forced his way into the social joint while drunk.

At the time, this author wrote an article stating that Kiprop risked losing his career due to his constant lapses in judgment. Below is the article from 2014.

Someone please advise Asbel Kiprop before he loses his career

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Fossils of prehistoric predators found in Kenya

Simbakubwa Kutokaafrika


© Mauricio ANTON, Mauricio ANTON

The name Simbakubwa Kutokaafrika literally Large Lion from Africa in the Kiswahili language. The fossils were originally found between 1978 and 1980 at Meswa Bridge in Kisumu county. The fossils were sitting unstudied in a drawer at the National museum of Kenya for decades. Analysis that was concluded in April in 2019 determined that it belonged to a large predator. Larger than a polar bear. These particular fossils were dated to 22 million years ago.

Despite being dubbed “Big Lion”, this species does not belong to the cat family. Rather it belongs to an order called Hyaenodonta which are unrelated to Hyenas but are so called because their dental structure is similar to that of hyenas. Its estimated weight is 1500 kg. It likely preyed on ancient proboscideans.

Isohyaenodon

Isohyaenodon is an extinct Genus that existed in the Miocene era. It belongs to the family Hyainailouridae. It is similar to Hyaenadon but with more robust molars.

Two species are known: Isohyaenodon Andrewsi and Isohyaenodon Zadoki (previously known as Isohyaenodon Mathewi) . The remains of the former species were found in the Omo Maboko area in Kisumu county in Western Kenya. The remains of Zadoki were found in Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria.

Exiguodon

Exiguodon is an extinct genus that belongs to the family Hyainailouridae and order Hyaenodonta. Its fossil remains have been dated to the miocene period. The only known species is Exiguodon Pilgrimi. It is diminutive when compared to other Hyaenodonts. It was previously known as Isohyaenodon Pilgrimi. Its fossil remains have been found on Rusinga island in Lake Victoria.

Leakitherium

Leakitherium is an extinct Genus that existed in the Miocene era. The only known species of this genus is Leakitherium Hiwegi. It belongs to the family Hyainailouridae. Its fossil remains were found in Rusinga Island.

Pterodon

Pterodon is an extinct genus belonging to the family Hyaenodontidae and order Credonta. The species that was found in Kenya is Pterodon nyanzae. Its fossil remains have been found in Ombo in Kisumu county.

Metapterodon

Metapterodon is an extinct genus of the family Hyainailouridae and order Hyaenodonta. The two species that were found in Kenya are Metapterodon Kaiseri which was found in Karungu in Migori county and and Metapterodon Zadoki which was found on Rusinga Island

Teratodon

Teratodon is an extinct genus. It belongs to the family Teratodontidae and order Carnivora.  The species whose remains were found in Kenya is Teratodon spekei. Its fossil remains were found in Koru, Kisumu county.

Dissopsalis

Dissopsalis is an extinct species of the family Hyaenodontidae and order Credodonta. The species that was found in Kenya is Dissopsalis pyroclasticus which existed in the middle miocene. Its fossil remains were found on Rusinga island.

Anasinopa

Anasinopa is a genus of the clade Teratodontinae, Family Hyaenodontidae, and order Creodonta.

The fossil remains that were found in Kenya belong to the sp ecies Anasinopa Leakeyi. The remains have been found in Rusinga Island, Mfangano Island and Karungu in Migori County

 

Megistotherium

Megistotherium is a genus of predator that existed during the early miocene (23 million years ago). It belongs to the family Hyainailouridae, clade Hyaenodonta and Order Credodonta.

Megistotherium osteothlastes is the only known species. It was a large creature, measuring 135 cm at the shoulder and with a skull 66 cm long. Its fossil remains were found in the Ngorora and Muruyur formations of the Tugen Hills in Baringo county.

 

Mioprionodon hodopeus

Mioprionodon hodopeus existed in the late Oligocene. It was a true a true carnivoran and potentially one of the very first immigrants from Eurasia during the African Mid-Tertiary Event. Its fossil remains were found in the Nakwai region in the Turkana basin.

 

Mlanyama Sugu

Mlanyama Sugu a species of predator that existed during the late Oligocene. It belongs to the family Hyainailouridae, clade Hyaenodonta and Order Credodonta. It was classified as such by D. T. Rasmussen and M. Gutierrez. 2009. Its fossils have been found near Lake Turkana


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Kenya at the 2019 Singapore Sevens


Kenya congratulates Oscar Dennis Hawke after he scored his first ever try for Kenya

Group Stage

Kenya 7 England 36
Tries : Mwale
Conv: Olindi

Kenya 14 USA 17
Tries : Taabu(2)
Conv: Taabu, Olindi

Kenya 19 Wales 14
Tries : Onyala, Dennis, Taabu
Conv: Taabu (2)

Challenge Trophy Quarter-Finals

Kenya 14 France 24
Tries : Mwale, Taabu
Conv: Taabu (2)

13th Place Semi-Final

Kenya 31 Japan 24
Tries : Amonde, Taabu(2), Oluoch (2)
Conv: Taabu (3)

13th Place Final

Kenya 21 Spain 5
Tries : Mwale, Taabu, Onyala
Conv: Taabu (3)

Squad

Lamech Francis
Andrew Amonde
Bush Mwale
Nelson Oyoo
Jeffrey Okwacha Oluoch
Johnstone Olindi
Vincent Onyala
Mark Ruga
Shaddon Munoko

Gallery


Taabu was the top scorer at the 2019 Singapore sevens

Jeff Oluoch

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In pictures: Kenya qualifies for IRB U20 trophy

Kenya will once again feature in the World Rugby Under 20 Trophy. This after they beat arch rivals Namibia 21-18 in a nail biting final at RFUEA grounds. Kenya had earlier registered an epic 73-0 win over Tunisia in the semi-finals. The World Rugby Under 20 Trophy is the second tier of global youth rugby. This marks the second time Kenya has participated.

In 2009, Kenya hosted the tournament and finished fourth after registering a shock win over the USA. The 2009 squad included players like Patrice Agunda, Lawrence Buyachi and Oscar Ouma. This year’s tournament will be held on July 9-21 in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. Participating teams will include the hosts plus Uruguay, Portugal, Tonga, Japan and Hong Kong.

Pictures


Coach Paul Odera in tears of joy after qualifying

 


Hundreds of players attended trials for the team in March

 

Match Report

Namibia broke the deadlock with two successfully converted penalties that saw Delron Brandt boot home the second penalty extending his side’s lead to 6-0.

However, Chipu responded in a fascinating fashion as they became the first side to dot a try when Brian Amaitsa fended off a Namibian defender to sprint for the try line, but Dominic Coulson missed the extra two points after conversion went wide.

The try that saw the Kenyan boys reduce the points deficit to only one exited the huge fans who thronged the Lions Den to rally their support behind their home team.

Odera charges could have taken the lead if they had utilized their golden chance they were handed after Namibia was penalized for a penalty, only for the kick to bounce off the posts.

The Kenyan boys made the amends, with Michele Brighetti setting up Peter Ogeta with a wide pass before going over the whitewash for Chipu’s second try and hand Kenya a 6-10 lead despite Andrew Matoka missing the conversion and enjoy the 6-10 advantage at the break.

On resumption, Namibia went over thanks to Shaun Van Wyk pushover try before they converted successfully to claim back their lead with only one-point separating the two sides as the score board read 11-10 in favor of the visitors.

Matoka, who displayed a man of the match performance came to Kenya’s rescue once again after drilling home a penalty from 40m to take a two-point lead.

Chipu were penalized for an infringement and reduced to 13 players to see Namibia handed a scrum that they utilized well to find a second try with the conversion going in and take a 18-13 lead.

Kenya could not lose hope as they landed the third try that took matters to 18-18 draw after missing the conversion but a sigh of relief came by their side after they were awarded a penalty that proved the winner after successfully converting the kick.

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Kenya at the 2019 Hong Kong Sevens

Despite the return of several key players who had previously boycotted, it was another sub par performance from Kenya that did nothing to ease relegation worries and called into question the abilities of the new coach Paul Murunga.


Returnee Jeff Otieno was one of the few bright spots in Hong Kong

 

Group Stage

Kenya 5 Fiji 22
Tries JO Otieno

Kenya 0 New Zealand 36

Kenya 12 Australia 28
Tries: Bush Mwale, JO Otieno
Conv: J Olindi

Challenge Trophy Quarter-Final

Kenya 19 Canada 0
Tries: JO Otieno, A. Amonde, E Agero
Conv: Agero(2)

Challenge Trophy Semi-Final

Kenya 12 Japan 21
Tries: Onyala, Ligamy
Conv: Olindi

Kenya Squad

Kenya 7s
Lamech Francis
Andrew Amonde
Eden Agero
Bush Mwale
Nelson Oyoo
Jeffrey Okwacha Oluoch
Johnstone Olindi
Vincent Onyala
Mark Ruga
Daniel Sikuta
Augustine Lugonzo Ligamy
Oscar Dennis Hawke
Daniel Taabu


Jeff Otieno emerged as impact player of the tournament


Jeff Otieno in action against Canada


Mark Ruga in action against Canada


Nelson Oyoo was one of the returnees


Kenya could not stop Australia

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Paris suburbs have 4500 pitches, Kibera has only 2

When France won the world cup in 2018, an incredible 65% of the squad was comprised of players who were born and grew up in the suburbs of Paris. These suburbs, known as banlieues, are primarily inhabited by poor immigrant families. They produce a disporportinate amount of the top footballing talent in France including Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, N’Golo Kante, Kingsley Coman, Blaise Matuidi and several other players many of whom are now playing for countries like Senegal and Algeria.

A key characteristic that enables the Banlieues to produce a lot of talent is the availability of wide open spaces and numerous football fields that dot the landscape. According to the article below from World Football magazine, there are a whopping public 4500 football fields in Suburban Paris.

Yes thats 4500 ! And it does not include private football fields such as those that belong to schools and football clubs.

Yours truly had an opportunity to fly into the Paris Charle De Gaule airport. Just in the vicinity of the airport I counted 8 full size football pitches as I looked outside the window.

According to Anton Ricciardi, a local coach, the area produces the best players because the youngsters are always playing.

“The best players come out of these neighbourhoods because the kids here are always out kicking a ball,” Riccardi told AFP. “They live for football, whether at school or on the estate.”


Youth in Paris sharpening their skills on one of the thousands of public football fields in the city and its suburbs

The situation in Kenyan slums

As is well known, 60% of Nairobians live in slums. There is very little space for youngsters to play football. Kibera for example has only two standard size football fields that are available for the ;public. That is Laini saba grounds and the field at Undugu. And both of these are low quality fields with not a blade of grass.

As such, aspiring youth have no spaces available to play and sharpen their skills. It comes as no surprise therefore that slums like Kibera produce very few good footballers even by Kenyan standards. Many reading this article will immediately think of Jesse Were, David Ochieng “Cheche” and perhaps Edwin Lavatsa. But when you consider that Kibera has 500,000 residents, you realize that it should be producing far more players. The city of Kisumu for example has fewer people than Kibera. Yet Kisumu produces far more international calibre players.


The scarcity of playing fields in Kenyan slums forces the youth to play on small spaces like this one

Further to that, learning how to play football on a bumpy uneven surface does not provide the opportunity to learn proper ball control. In fact it re-inforces bad football habits.

Football requires constant practice

Football unlike Rugby, is an unnatural sport. This means that the movements and reflex actions required for football are initially unknown to the human brain. They have to be learned and memorized by the brain (muscle memory). And they have to be sharpened constantly. Therefore the best footballers tend to be those who started playing around age 6 or 7 and played consistently, on a daily basis throughout their youth.

In addition, advanced ball control methods that are critical to being an international class player, cannot be learned on a bumpy ground like those as Laini saba grounds or by playing with a home-made ball made of plastic bags and paper as is the case for most slum dwelling kids.

To put it plainly, unless Kenya focuses on creating more playing spaces and more fields in the neighborhoods, the country is doomed to more mediocrity.

 


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