Ferdinand Omanyala yesterday broke the championships record to hand Kenya gold medal in men’s 100m at the ongoing Africa Athletics Championships at at Cote d’Or National Sports Complex in Reduit, Mauritius
The African 100m record holder timed 9.93 seconds to beat the defending champion Akani Simbine (9.93) of South Africa in a photo-finish dash to give the country her first African 100m title in 32 years. South African Henrich Bruintjies was third in 10.01.
But Omanyala’s time of 9.93 was wind assisted of +4.5m/s and will wait for ratification.
Joseph Gikonyo was the last Kenyan to win the 100m and 200m titles at the 1990 Cairo Championships.
Last year, Omanyala took the continental record from Simbine, setting a new time of 9.77 after smashing South Africa's previous benchmark of 9.84.
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“I didn’t predict that it was going to be a difficult race, but Akani is a great sprinter, competing with him really motivates me. I’m thankful with the end result and now focus shifts to the 200m event,” said Omanyala after claiming the main title.
At the same time, 2018 Continental Cup 1,500m champion Winny Chebet clocked 4:16.10 to successfully defend her Africa crown in the women’s race with her compatriot and world U20 1,500m champion Purity Chepkirui taking home silver.
Ethiopia’s Ayal Dagnachew was third 4:16.45 while another Kenyan, Branda Chebet settled for the fourth place in 4:17.25.
In the women’s 5,000m contest, the traditional long-distance rivalry between Kenyans and Ethiopians was on display with the 2018 world U20 5,000m champion Beatrice Chebet winning the race in 15:00.8 as her compatriot Caroline Nyaga (15:01.3) clinched the bronze slot. Ethiopian Belayneh Azale took silver in 15:01.8.
Maximila Imali finished fifth in 11.29 in a tight women’s 100m final.
The African Games 100m silver medallist Gina Bass from Gambia won the race in 11.06, Niger’s Seyni Aminatou clocked 11.09 in silver slot with Carina Horn of South Africa settling for bronze in 11.08 second.
Veronica Mutua stormed into the women’s 400m final after finishing second in her semis timing 53.80 while Jacinta Shikanda was eliminated.
In the other events yesterday, Collins Omae and William Rayan were eliminated in the men’s 400m semifinals.
In today's action, Geoffrey Kirwa and Benjamin Kigen will carry the nation’s flag in the men's steeplechase final while Daniel Simiu, Ismael Kirui and Michael Kibet will be hoping to progress to the final when they line up in the men's 5,000m semis event.