Good bye Birmingham, see you in Melbourne, in 2026
By Betty Njeru - Aug 9th 2022
History, redemption and inspiration marked the 2022 Commonwealth Games that ended on Sunday night inside Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, England.
Kenyan track charges gave the 11-day meet a befitting closure as they bagged 21 medals (six gold, five silver and 10 bronze) to finish the showpiece at 13th place.
The performance surpassed the 2018 contest in Gold Coast, Australia, where the nation collected 17 medals.
Kenyan squad, especially team sports, travel back home with bitter lessons from the UK. But there are realities on how to protect the middle and long distance running turf.
National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) and federations must get back to the drawing board and come up with strategies of winning medals in the 15 sports disciplines entered in the Commonwealth Games.
Apart from track athletes and Paralympic weightlifter Hellen Wawira, who bagged bronze, other sports disciplines failed to win medals.
But the team ventured into virgin grounds with Africa men’s 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala striking gold –which came after a 60-year wait.
Not only is he now the Africa and Commonwealth Games champion, Omanyala inspires a new wave of Kenyan sprinters.
Off the track, paralympic weightlifter Hellen Wawira set Kenya's medal display in motion as she won bronze in women's lightweight final after lifting 97kg on Thursday.
World 800m bronze medallist Mary Moraa made a statement on the track once again as she recaptured the two-lap race crown that Eunice Sum won at the Commonwealth Games showdown in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2014.
Wycliffe Kinyamal went down as the first two-time Commonwealth Games 800m champion when he defended his title in Birmingham.
It was a spectacular sight to behold watching Kinyamal, who comes from Poroko Village in Narok County –bordering world 800m record holder David Rudisha’s Trans Mara County –stage a superlative showing.
In the same vein, things hurled down south for Olympic and world 800m champion Emmanuel Korir, who was disqualified for lane infringement in the semi-final.
Olympic 1500m silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot redeemed his prowess with a silver medal after a poor showing at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Former Africa champion Winny Chebet and Edinah Jebitok could not win medals in the 1500m showdown.
There was a river of hope in Kenya’s quest to reclaim 3,000m steeplechase dominance as Abraham Kibiwott summoned his sheer ingenuity to win the men’s contest. Teenager Amos Serem bagged bronze.
The script in Birmingham looked different from the 2018 showdown inside Cararra Stadium in Gold Coast, Australia, where two-time world champion Conseslus Kipruto orchestrated a 1-2-3 sweep for Kenya. He led Abraham Kibiwott and Amos Kirui to silver and bronze medals.
Kenya's performance on the race has witnessed a steady decline in the past three years. None of the three athletes had dipped under eight minutes and the Club Games offered the nation an opportunity to redeem her waning supremacy.
Africa 5000m champion Beatrice Chebet showed no respect for a classy line up as she ensured the national anthem was once again played after the women’s 5000m final.
After failing to impress at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA, last month, Chebet vowed to defend the title Hellen Obiri won in Gold Coast, Australia.
“I really want to fit in Hellen Obiri’s shoes. She is an inspiration to me,” Chebet said after the race.
In the men's 5,000m race, Ugandans –with the absence of two-time world 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei –proved too strong for the Kenyans.
The performance was simply a re-enactment of the 2018 showdown in Gold Coast, where Uganda’s invasion remained quite visible. Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda was too good for Nicholas Kimeli and world silver medallist Jacob Krop.
Kenyan fans were pregnant with expectations from Kimeli, a member of the Tokyo Olympic Games squad, who was fresh from setting a meet record of 12:46.33 inside Stadio Olympico at the Rome Diamond League race last month, where he erased Eliud Kipchoge’s record of 12:46.53. Kimeli settled for silver in 5,000m.
It was a similar rhythm in men’s 10,000m where Ugandans have dominated the race since the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. Daniel Simiu and world half marathon silver medallist Kibiwott Kandie saved Kenyan blushes with silver and bronze medals.
Former world cross country champion Irene Chebet Cheptai and Africa 10,000m champion Sheila Chepkirui set Kenya’s medal chase in motion with silver and bronze medals in 10,000m even as attention on track races shifts to 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Kenya’s quest for marathon titles at the Commonwealth Games remained elusive once again.
Margaret Wangare and Michael Githae snatched silver and bronze medals. Kenya last won men’s and women’s marathon titles at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in India. Emily Ngii bagged bronze in the 10000m race walk.
The 22nd Commonwealth Games begun with the women's hockey team suffering a 16-0 loss at the hands of New Zealand.
Such a huge loss at the start of the games demoralised the entire Kenyan contingent.
The team, fondly known as the Blades, had been shrouded in controversy on their campaign to the Commonwealth Games.
Shooting, cycling and wrestling as well as Kenya Sevens, have some homework to do ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and 2026 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.
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