By ERICK OCHIENG’
Nairobi,Kenya:Kenya on Sunday struck gold and a silver in marathon on the first day of the 22nd Summer Deaflympic Games in Fussen, Germany.
World marathon and 10,00m reigning champion Daniel Kiptum won gold clicking Two hours, 24 minutes and 45 seconds edging out Peter Toroitich, who is the bronze medallist at the World Deaf Championships, to silver. Toroitich clocked 2:28.44.
The marathon was run in Fussen, a southern city of Germany since there is no course to hold the 42km race in Sofia, Bulgaria — the original hold city for the games.
Unfortunately David Njeru failed to defend his runners up position after he finished a distant fifth in 2:45.28. Kiptum, who was in a class of his own, led Kenya’s onslaught from the start to finish even though pundits had expected a stiff challenge owing to the form of his compatriots, Njeru and Toroitich in the competition.
“I was definitely under pressure to perform since I knew my teammates were better than me. However, I held on and am glad the weather was fair and the course was accommodative,” said Kiptum.
Following their victory, Kenya’s Chef De Mission Tom Okiki said: “We are very happy with this kind of start in the games. It’s a good omen and we are hopeful Kenya will carry the day in Sofia.”
While lauding the good start by the Kenyan squad Team Kenya Head of Delegation, Gordon Oluoch, said the Government will do all it can to make the team comfortable in Sofia.
“We are using the Sh37million that has been availed by the government to sort out the needs of the players in such a way that they are free and ready to perform on the pitch. The marathon gold is a clear indication that better things are ahead for the team,”Oluoch said.
Head of Logistics Carolyn Kariuki and Deputy Chef De Mission Ezekiel Kiplangat said the feat displayed by the marathon squad has inspired other athletes, who also have vowed to perform in their categories.
The Kenyan trio was scheduled to depart from Germany yesterday to join their countrymen in Sofia where they will also be involved in other competitions.
Apart from the Government, Safaricom has sponsored the team to a tune of Sh4 million. Safaricom has also pledged a cash award of Sh1million for every gold, Sh600,000 for silver and Sh300, 000 for bronze earned during the championships.