Kenya’s quartet of Selah Busienei, Joyce Zakary, Sylvia Chesebe and Virginia Nyambura saved the blushes of the Kenyan team on the opening day of the IAAF World Relays in Bahamas, after winning the silver medal in the women’s distance medley and setting an African record of 10:43.35, at a fully-packed Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, on Saturday night.
USA were awarded a $50,000 bonus by the IAAF after smashing the world record in the race with a time of 10:36.50. Poland finished third in 10:45.32 also breaking the European record in the event that was light up by a vibrant home crowd.
The team of Treniere Moser (1200m), Sanya Richards-Ross (400m), Ajee Wilson (800m) and Shannon Rowbury (1600m) took more than six seconds off the previous mark of 10:42.57 that was set indoors earlier this year by a different US team.
“We are satisfied with the silver medal because we competed against a team (USA) with runners with good time. We are experienced, but this is new team and we thank God for that. It is a good warm up for Beijing,” Chesebe, who was in the 4x800m team that won silver in the inaugural competition, last year, told FeverPitch.
The Kenyan camp was heart broken after their men’s (4x400m) team finished fifth in the second heat followed by the disqualification of the 4x800m defending champions team from the race for breaching rule 170.19.
The quartet of Alfred Kipketer, Nicholas Kipkoech, Timothy Kitum and Jeremiah Mutai had finished second behind winners USA and were on their way to collect silver medals when they were told they had been disqualified as they had started running before take over zone at change.
The changeover blunder cost them a place on the podium with Poland (third) and Australia (fourth) receiving the medals at their expense.
“I started well, gave Nicholas the baton he did well, but I think there was a problem in the third take-off. We gave our best, but it was really disappointing when somebody stopped us on our way to pick the medal and told us that we have been disqualified. It is so painful, to come to defend a title and end up being disqualified. All the same, we are going to come back much stronger in the next edition,” Kipketer told FeverPitch.
“Actually, I don’t know what happened. Generally, we ran well and we expected to finish on the podium,” said Kipkoech.
Athletics Kenya CEO Isaac Mwangi said: “I was watching the race, but from my view I don’t think he picked the baton before. So we are definitely going to appeal that decision. My only challenge is that they have gone ahead and done the awarding of the medals which according to the rule is not right. They should have waited for at least thirty minutes for us to launch an appeal.”
But the highlight of the night was a supercharged performance by the USA’s quartet of Mike Rodgers, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey that clocked 37.38 to beat Usain Bolt’s Jamaica and break the championships’ record.