Ian Kahinga's win ensures Deaflympics 1500m title remains in Kenya

Ian Wambui Kahinga poses with his gold medal after winning the 1500 metres men's race at the 24th Summer Deaflympics Games in Brazil. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

The Sesi Centro Esportivo Athletics Track in Caxias Do Sul, Brazil was brought to a standstill yesterday morning as Kenya defended the men's 1500m in style at the ongoing 24th Summer Deaflympics Games.

And the messenger of the good news was little-known Ian Wambui Kahinga from the lakeside town of Naivasha, who was making his debut in the global championships.

The 21-year-old blazed the tracks with meteoric laps that left the crowd at the stadium on the edge of their seats.

The fans yearned for more of such brilliant showpieces, just to warm up the otherwise cold night here.

Kahinga led from the lights to the tape without blinking an eye, as he shook off strong opposition from other athletes who were salivating for the glittering medal that Kenya was jealously guarding.

"I'm so happy to have won my first international crown. I had never competed outside Kenya before, so this good news is too much for me," Kahinga said after the victory.

"I feel really inspired. I'm now going for the men's 5000m title. Defending champion Simon Kibai should brace for a tough battle, because I'm going to smash that record,"Kahinga warned.

While revealing the secrets for his victory, Kahinga said:

"I started the race with a very strong tempo. I maintained the speed in the first 100m, then increased it in the next 300m and vice versa. I'm glad that this completely burnt out my opponents because they are not familiar with the strategy," he said.

"This is a skill I was taught by head coach Samuel Kibet while in camp at Kasarani Stadium.

Ahead of the Kasarani camp, Kahinga had trained for two months in the cold terrains of Nyahururu.

Ironically, men's 1500m champion John Koech did not defend his position in the race as he has been entered to compete in the men's 800m category.

"Koech failed to qualify for the race during the national trials in Nairobi, but we are glad we got new blood like Kahinga who have helped Kenya retain the title," Kibet said.

At the same time, Linet Fwamba Nanjala won bronze in women's 400m thanks to her photo finish performance.

Kenya now has nine medals. Josephta Mukobe, the Principal Secretary, State Department of Culture, is among the Kenyan dignitaries in Brazil.

Apart from the medals won by Kahinga and Nanjala, Kenya had a clean sweep in men's 10000m, won silver in 4x400 mix relay and bronze in Javelin on Monday.

The country also won silver and bronze in women's 10000m on Sunday.

"We are excited with the good outcome. This shows we had good preparations. This shows Kenya takes sports seriously especially for people with various disabilities like the deaf,"said Mukobe.

"The government will identify other sporting activities to support the deaf community."