Kenya, the pride of Africa: The country produced dazzling performance to top continental table with 23 medals

Julius Yego competes during the Athletics Kenya Pre-Trials for 2020 Tokyo Olympics at Nyayo Stadium. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Kenya produced a spectacular show to top medal standings as curtains came down on the five-day African Senior Athletics championships in Cote d'Or, Mauritius.

On the closing day yesterday, Kenya picked up four gold medals from Samuel Gathimba, Emily Ngii, Abel Kipsang, Julius Yego and Jarinta Musya to ensure the country defended their 2018 title.

The continental feat ensured Kenya topped the medal tally for two consecutive championships with 23 medals going into the final day of action.  Kenya has now collected 10 gold, five silver and eight bronze medals. South Africa finished second.

Kipsang’s hunger for glory this season continued as he clinched gold medal in men’s 1500m on the final day of the championships.

Kipsang, fourth place finisher at the Tokyo Olympics, produced his distinctive performance to win the event in 3:36.57 ahead of Ryan Mphahlele (3:38.74) from South Africa, who won silver. Adehena Kasaye from Ethiopia settled for bronze in 3:38.27.

Former world Javelin champion Julius Yego produced 79.62 throw to ensure he defended his Africa title with Egyptian Ihab Abdelrahman winning silver and South African Janese Van Rensburg taking home bronze.  

Maximilla Imali was on top form, grabbing a rare silver medal in women’s 200m final behind Seyni Amanitou from Niger. Zambia’s Rhoda Njobvu took home bronze.

The rise of Race Walk continued to soar high as Gathimba and Ngii strode to victories in men’s and women’s 20km race Walking respectively.

Gathimba, who was using the championships to get the qualification time for the World Championships in Oregon, recorded 1.22.01 to win his third continental title. He won the African title in 2016 in Durban and 2018 Asaba, Nigeria.

In March this year, the 34-year-old Kenyan won his senior medal on a global level when he came third at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat, Oman. He also won Commonwealth bronze in 2018.

“I came here well-prepared to win the title and as well attain World Championships qualification time, but I narrowly missed out due to the wet course. The weather was terrible, the course had many sharp bends which slowed my pace on many occasions,” said Gathimba, who will now meet the World Athletics Championships time at the national trials set for June 24 -25 at Kasarani Stadium

Ngii comfortably recaptured her African title she lost in Asaba Nigeria in 2018 in the corresponding women's event in 1:34.30.