Faith Kipyegon garners silver medal in 1500m

Faith Chepngetic Kipyegon, a former world junior cross country champion won the silver medal in the women’s 1500m, finishing behind the incredible Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia.

Kipyegon who won the Commonwealth games gold medal in 2014 showed resilience in the last 200m. With Genzebe assured of gold, it became a race to see who would win silver. Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands charged past Kipyegon at the final bend. But Kipyegon would not give up and surged past Hassan again with 70m left to win silver.

Race Video

Race Results

POS BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK
1 342 Genzebe Dibaba ETH ETH 4:08.09
2 567 Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon KEN KEN 4:08.96
3 616 Sifan Hassan NED NED 4:09.34
4 351 Dawit Seyaum ETH ETH 4:10.26
5 404 Laura Muir GBR GBR 4:11.48
6 786 Abeba Aregawi SWE SWE 4:12.16
7 915 Shannon Rowbury USA USA 4:12.39
8 664 Angelika Cichocka POL POL 4:13.22
9 600 Rababe Arafi MAR MAR 4:13.66
10 753 Tatyana Tomashova RUS RUS 4:14.18
11 917 Jennifer Simpson USA USA 4:16.28
12 599 Malika Akkaoui MAR MAR 4:16.98

 


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Masterful tactics by Rudisha to win gold

David Rudisha put his vast experience on display when he out-hought and outfoxed the field to win the mens 800m at the 2015 world athletics championships. Just as he had done in the semi-finals, Rudisha took the lead from the start but slowed the pace to a pedestrian like 54.15 first lap. Rudisha does this knowing that in his current state, a slow pace favours him. When Rudisha was in his prime, he would set a torrid pace towing the field with him. He has now re-invented himself with much success.

Rudisha held off all attempts to pass him. With 250m left to go, Rudisha’s long strides started to be evident as he started to stretch his lead. Meanwhile Bosnian challenger Amel Tuka who was in last position at this point started to make his move. But Rudisha whose finishing kick has been lacking since 2012 showed his improved speed blowing the rest of the field away in the last 100m.

It is Rudisha’s first major win since he won Olympic gold in 2012. Ferguson Rotich who beat Rudisha at the Kenyan trials was 4th, barely missing out on a medal.

Race Video

Race Results

POS BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK
1 702 David Lekuta Rudisha KEN KEN 1:45.84
2 797 Adam Kszczot POL POL 1:46.08
3 234 Amel Tuka BIH BIH 1:46.30
4 701 Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich KEN KEN 1:46.35
5 490 Pierre-Ambroise Bosse FRA FRA 1:46.63
6 825 Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla QAT QAT 1:47.01
7 730 Nader Belhanbel MAR MAR 1:47.09
8 685 Alfred Kipketer KEN KEN 1:47.66

 


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Nicholas Bett wins 400m hurdles from lane 9 !

Another first for Kenya !

Nicholas Bett became the first Kenyan ever to win the 400m hurdles in a major global event. In fact Bett became the first Kenyan ever to win gold at a major global event. The last time a Kenyan sprinter won gold at a global event was Seraphino Antao who won gold in the 100m at the Commonwealth games half a decade a ago. However the Commonwealth games are not considered a major global event.

Bett did this by clocking 47.79 which is the fastest time in the world this year and a new Kenyan record. And he did all this while having the disadvantage of running from lane 9 which is the worst lane to run from in any one lap event due to the incredible stagger.

Despite running from lane 9, Bett held on and did not allow any racer to make up the stagger. Not even the pressure of having two time world champion Kerron Clement of the USA could shake Bett. Throughout the race, the commentators only spoke of Michael Tinsley who was the favourite while not realizing that Bett was leading throughout.

The time makes Bett the 4th fastest African ever behind Matete of Zambia, Dia Ba of Senegal and Van Zyl of South Africa.  Both the second and third placed finisher set new national records. Boniface Mucheru, the other Kenyan in the race was 5th. There mere fact that Kenya had two runners in the final is in itself a phenomenal achievement.

Race Results

POS BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK Reaction Time
1 679 Nicholas Bett KEN KEN 47.79 WL 0.162
2 870 Denis Kudryavtsev RUS RUS 48.05 NR 0.146
3 202 Jeffery Gibson BAH BAH 48.17 NR 0.184
4 1005 Kerron Clement USA USA 48.18 SB 0.174
5 705 Boniface Mucheru Tumuti KEN KEN 48.33 0.164
6 956 Yasmani Copello TUR TUR 48.96 0.204
7 794 Patryk Dobek POL POL 49.14 0.176
8 1063 Michael Tinsley USA USA 50.02 0.134

Race Video

Kenya has a rich heritage in this event

This win may surprise many including yours truly. But Kenya does indeed have a decent history in this event. Just like the 800m, it is an event that combines both endurance and speed. Since Kenya has been excelling in the 800m, it makes sense that Kenya would excel in the 400m hurdles once they understood the technical aspects of this race.

Eric Keter was a star in this race winning both the African championships and All Africa games during the early 1990s. Daniel Kimaiyo won the 400m hurdles at the 1978 All Africa games beating the legendary Ugandan John Akii Bua who had been an Olympic gold medalist and had dominated the event all over the world. Kimaiyo went on to win a gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth games. Kimaiyo would also win gold at the 1979 African championships.

 


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Vivian Cheruiyot makes a grand comeback

Vivian Cheruiyot is back with a bang. After winning both the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2011 world championships, she experienced a mini-slump before taking time off on maternity leave. In 2015 she showed signs of a comeback when she won the 10,000m at the Bruxelles diamond league and at the Kenyan trials.

Much was expected from her and she did not disappoint, beating a strong challenge from Gelete Burka of Ethiopia to win in 31.41.31. The leading pack stayed together for 9600m. Cheruiyot took the lead with 250m to go and held off strong challenges from Burka who tried several times to pass her. It was her fourth world championship gold medal having also won gold at the 5000m in 2009.

Race Video

Race Results

POS BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK
1 560 Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot  KEN 31:41.31
2 338 Gelete Burka  ETH 31:41.77
3 891 Emily Infeld  USA 31:43.49
4 890 Molly Huddle  USA 31:43.58
5 566 Sally Jepkosgei Kipyego  KEN 31:44.42 SB
6 880 Shalane Flanagan  USA 31:46.23
7 348 Alemitu Heroye  ETH 31:49.73
8 573 Betsy Saina  KEN 31:51.35 SB
9 349 Belaynesh Oljira  ETH 31:53.01
10 618 Susan Kuijken  NED 31:54.32
11 626 Jip Vastenburg  NED 32:03.03
12 689 Sara Moreira  POR 32:06.14

 


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Wily veteran Kemboi wins 5th straight major as Kenya sweeps

No country has dominated any event in any sport the way Kenya has dominated the 3000m steeplechase. Since Kenya burst onto the scene at the 1968 Olympics, Kenya has won this event every time with a few exceptions such as the 1983 world championships when a rust Kenyan failed to win a single medal and 1987 when strong favourite  Joshua Kipkemboi tripped over a hurdle and in 2003 and 2005 when Stephen Cherono defected from Kenya to run for Qatar.

At the Olympics, Kenya has won every Olympic gold since 1968 with the exception of 1976 and 1980 when Kenya boycotted the games. That is 10 out of 12 gold medals on offer.

At the world championships, Kenya has won 27 of the 36 medals on offer. Including winning 11 out of the last 13 world championships, with the only break coming when Shaheen defected to Qatar.

It is an amazing record. That record came to the fore again on Monday when Kenya captured the to four positions. Evan Jager, the man whom Americans had pinned a lot of hopes on finished 5th. Much was expected from Jager because he had the second fastest time of the year.

But the Kenyans controlled the pace, setting a slow pace, knowing fully well that they had a stronger finishing kick than anyone else.

It is worth noting that the pace did not suite Jairus Birech either. He typically wins by setting a blazing pace and has dominated this event for the past two years using such tactics. One might say he put team performance ahead of his own performance. However it must be said that Birech missed a medal due to his poor negotiation of the last hurdle which enabled Brimin Kipruto to catch him. It is something he must improve on

5th straight major win for Ezekiel Kemboi

The wily veteran Ezekiel Kemboi showed that you should never underrate the heart of a champion. Kemboi has been missing in action at most major races in 2014 and 2015 and seemed to be past his best. But he once again timed his kick perfectly taking off like a maniac with 250m to go to gain an unassailable lead before finishing in lane 3 as he usually does. By the time he was finishing the race, he was so far ahead of the field that he could have skipped or danced across the finish line. After the race he pointed to his brain as if saying he is too clever for the rest of the field.

Kemboi is a true legend. It is the 5th successive major win having won the world championship gold in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and the Olympic gold in 2012.

Race Video

Results

POS BIB ATHLETE COUNTRY MARK
1 683 Ezekiel Kemboi KEN KEN 8:11.28
2 690 Conseslus Kipruto KEN KEN 8:12.38
3 689 Brimin Kiprop Kipruto KEN KEN 8:12.54
4 680 Jairus Kipchoge Birech KEN KEN 8:12.62
5 1027 Daniel Huling USA USA 8:14.39
6 1030 Evan Jager USA USA 8:15.47
7 742 Brahim Taleb MAR MAR 8:17.73
8 312 Matthew Hughes CAN CAN 8:18.63 SB
9 815 Krystian Zalewski POL POL 8:21.22 SB
10 1000 Donald Cabral USA USA 8:24.94
11 737 Hamid Ezzine MAR MAR 8:25.72
12 459 Hailemariyam Amare ETH ETH 8:26.19
13 161 Bilal Tabti ALG ALG 8:29.04
14 153 Hicham Bouchicha ALG ALG 8:33.79
15 471 Tolosa Nurgi ETH ETH 8:44.81

 


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Congratulations to Joyce Zakary: New Kenya Record

Joyce Zakary set a new Kenya record in the women’s 400m during the heats at the 2015 world athletics championships with a time of 50.71. Zakary whose name has been spelled variously as Joy Sakari and Joyce Zackary and various combinations thereof, was the co-holder of the previous record at 51.56. The record was originally set by the legendary Ruth Waithera in 1984. Zakary equaled the record in 2009. Thus the record had lasted 31 years!

Zakary also becomes the first Kenyan to dip below the 51.00 second mark. Running in lane 3, Zakary looked out of contention at the 250m mark. She started to gain ground and by the 350m mark she had established herself in second position. She continued to close the gap on the leader but slowed down towards the end after having secured a qualifying spot. In essence, she would have lowered the record even further had she tried.

Race Video

Maureen Jelagat Maiyo, who previously represented Kenya in the 400m hurdles, also dipped below the previous record and is now the second fastest Kenyan ever in the one lap event. She clocked 51.40 to qualify for the next stage based on her time. She finished 4th in heat 2

 


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Inspired decision by Mucheru to focus on 400mH

Boniface Tumuti Mucheru reached the finals of the 400m hurdles at the 2015 World athletics championships. In the process Mucheru clocked 48.29 and beat Two time world champion and one time Olymmpic champion Kerron Clement of the USA.

Mucheru won a bronze medal in the 400m flat at the 2014 African championships. He would have been expected to continue in that event but he chose to switch to the 400m hurdles. It now appears to be an excellent decision as he had very little chance of excelling at world level in the 400m flat.  He clocked 48.29, missing the Kenya record by only 0.05 of a second.

In the other semi-final, Nicholas Bett finished second to qualify for the final. Bett was a bronze medalist at the 2014 Africa athletics championships

It is not the first time that two Kenyans have reached the finals of the 400m hurdles at the world championships. For example as far back as 1993, Eric Keter and Barnabas Kinyor both made the final. It was then that Keter set the Kenya record of 48.24 that lasts to this day.

Race Video

Semi final Results 1

1 705 Boniface Mucheru Tumuti KEN KEN 48.29 Q PB 0.165
2 1005 Kerron Clement USA USA 48.50 Q 0.170
3 863 Timofey Chalyy RUS RUS 48.69 PB 0.178
4 599 Thomas Barr IRL IRL 48.71 0.196
5 454 Rasmus Mägi EST EST 48.76 0.132
6 158 Abdelmalik Lahoulou ALG ALG 48.87 NR 0.188
7 643 Annsert Whyte JAM JAM 48.90 SB 0.181
8 222 Michaël Bultheel BEL BEL 49.66 0.152

 

Semi final Results 3

1 1063 Michael Tinsley USA USA 48.47 Q 0.156
2 679 Nicholas Bett KEN KEN 48.54 Q 0.170
3 911 Kariem Hussein SUI SUI 48.59 0.153
4 518 Niall Flannery GBR GBR 49.17 0.181
5 822 Javier Culson PUR PUR 49.36 0.186
6 628 Leford Green JAM JAM 49.59 0.173
7 754 Kurt Couto MOZ MOZ 50.58 0.177
8 664 Yuki Matsushita JPN JPN 51.10 0.181

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Kamworor settles for silver as Farah wins 10,000m


World cross country champion Joseph Kamwroror and Paul Tanui stayed stepped for step with Mo Farah of Great Britain until the last lap when Farah took the lead. Neither Kamwroror nor Tanui could close down Farah in the final lap despite a concerted effort over the last 200m.

The Kenyans knew going in that their best hope was to set an intense pace given that Farah has 3:28 mile speed which makes beating him in a sprint finish a tall order.

“We went as per our plan (high pace) but unfortunately, he was able to keep up with the pace and closed the gap. “When we saw that he had caught up with us, we decided the only option was to sprint in the final stage but he (Farah) came out stronger,” Kamworor said, adding that he believes he can beat Farah in the Olympics.

It was an improvement for Kamworor who had earlier this season lost by a large margin to Farah. Given his youth, he has a bright future in this event.

The versatile Kamworor has excelled on the track, in the cross country and in half marathons. He will make his marathon debut at the next New York Marathon.

Tanui said winning silver and bronze, and also taking fourth position, was a big improvement. “We will try our luck next year and see if we can beat him,” the Japan-based runner added.


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Questionable selection dooms Kenya’s marathon chances

The 2015 world athletics championships started today (August 22) in Beijing China. Much was expected from Kenya’s marathon squad given that it comprised the current world record holder , Dennis Kimetto and the previous world record holder Wilson Kipsang who had recently done well at the highly competitive London marathon, running ultra fast teams in a Kenyan sweep. And there was Mark Korir who had won the Paris Marathon earlier this year.

In the end, Korir finished 22nd with a time of 2: 21.20 minutes while Kimetto and Kipsang dropped out. The winner was Eritrean Ghirmay Ghebreslassie who clocked 2:12.28. Three Ugandans finished in the top 10 including the bronze medalist.

The slow times were due to the intense heat and humidity of Beijing. Which brings us to the reason for Kenya’s poor performance. Marathoners typically do well in certain climatic conditions and on certain terrains. Some excel in cool conditions, some in heat and humidity, some on hilly terrain etc.

Neither Kimetto nor Kipsang nor Korir have proven that they can run well in heat and humidity. The London and Berlin marathons in which they have excelled are typically run in mild conditions with no humidity and sometimes rain.

Kipsang and Kimetto

The marathon is a gruelling, demanding race that requires that one master the conditions. When Samuel Wanjiru won the Olympic marathon in Beijing in 2008, it was because he had spent most of his life training in the heat and humidity of Japan.

This is not the first time that Kenyan marathoners have floundered when much was expected from them. In the 2012 Olympics, Mary Keitany was expected to challenge for gold because she had been the fastest marathoner in the world for the previous two years, In the end she was not in medal contention. She stated that she had performed poorly due to the fact that it rained on the day of the marathon yet she had never trained in rain. This is comical considering that it always rains in London and as such, part of preparation should be running in rainy weather or selecting runners who excel in rainy conditions.

It is also a fact that most of the Kenyans who excel in City marathons do not often  to do well when running in championships. This is especially true for the men. One exception was Samuel Wanjiru. Conversely the men who have not done well in City marathons generally do well when running for the country. Examples are Like Kibet and Abel Kirui who were the world championships gold medalists in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

In general, selecting a marathon team is not just about selecting the runners who are fastest on paper. It is very easy to assume that a runners city marathon performance will translate to any championship race. This is often not true.  One has to gauge motivation, the terrain and the weather conditions.

 


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Wildly inaccurate reports about Kenyan going directly to NBA


In the past few days, Kenyan television stations have been replete with false reports about a Kenyan basketball player by the name of Joseph Njeru Njuki being recruited to play for the Philadephia 76ers.

Top tier news stations including KTN and NTV ran with this story as did numerous other Kenyan news outlets.

The fact that Kenyan sports journalists would think it was possible for a Kenyan player to go directly from secondary school basketball in Kenya to the NBA shows the lack of basic knowledge that Kenyan sports journalists editors have about the NBA and how difficult it is to get in.

To this day, Njuki’s greatest accomplishment is that he was the MVP of the 2013 East Africa school games. This is a tremendous accomplishment but hardly enough to warrant a place in among America’s top college basketball programs much less the NBA.

To put things in perspective, the African basketball championships featuring Africa top basketball teams is currently going on in Tunisia. Whomever is voted the MVP of this tournament is still not good enough to play in the NBA. That fact alone should make the whole idea of Njuki going to the NBA laughable.

Journalists who closely cover the Philadelphia 76ers have refuted the story via twitter

 

Luckily Njuki himself seems to understand that the odds of reaching the NBA are somewhere between remote and impossible. That does not mean he should give up on basketball. Numerous Kenyan basketball players have succeeded in the USA college basketball scene. Most have earned degrees and proceeded to become successful professional white collar workers. A select few have gone on to pursue professional basketball in Europe. As we write, Tylor Ongwae who led the University of Louisiana Monroe in 2015, has signed his first professional contract in Europe.

Njuki could use his predeccesors as motivation to seek higher but realistic goals. But he should first speak to someone who can come clean and give him (Njuki) a dose of the real situation so that he does not set himself up for dissapointment. Even getting a full scholarship at any college may prove a tall order. Some Kenyans who went stateside on various sports scholarships ended up not getting their promises fulfilled. Some were dropped after one year.  He needs to get the facts as soon as possible. If he is misled, he could become disillusioned with basketball and quit.

Worth noting also is that Njuki never played basketball until form one when coach Robert Njeru who was interviewed in the third video unearthed him as a diamond in the rough and polished him to the point where he was good enough to become East Africa school games MVP. There are many Njuki type players with raw talent all over Kenya waiting to be discovered. The earlier they are introduced to the game of basketball, the more likely they are to fulfill their potential.


The coach who unearthed Njuki’s talents

 


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