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Olympic silver medallist Barshim says Kenya has talent in high jump

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Qatar's Essa Mutaz Barshim competes in the mens high jump at the Diamond League Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, Thursday, June 15, 2017. ( AP)

Two-time Olympic silver medallist Mutaz Essa Barshim believes there is high jump talent in Kenya.

The Qatari who competed in the high jump qualification round at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday morning alongside Kenya’s Mathew Sawe said Kenyans can do well in the event.

“The fact that Sawe is here means that he is good enough for this stage and I believe there are other good high jumpers in Kenya who can compete at a higher level,” the two-time world champion said.

He said it was only a matter of time for Kenya before they can also make a mark in the event.

The Qatari who won back-to-back Olympic silver medals in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016 promised to visit Kenya very soon.

“I know Kenya well and I have heard more about it. I should visit soon,” Barshim said after topping the qualification round on Friday.

He jumped 2.28m to top the qualification while Sawe could only jump 2.17 which was not enough to move him to the next round of competition.

Meanwhile, sprinters Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast and Nigeria Blessing Okagbare are hopeful that Africans will do well in the sprints in Tokyo.

“I am still shocked that I raced to an African record despite easing off in the final few metres,” Ta Lou said her 100m heat on Friday.

She clocked 10.78 which was an African record and was also the fastest time on the seven heats.

Okagbare also won heat 7 in a much slower time of 11.05, but for her, it was all about qualifying for the semi-finals.

There were also good shows from other Africans with Ivorian Muriel Ahoure booking a slot in the next round after finishing third in heat one while Nigeria’s Grace Nwokocha also finished third in heat five which was won by the Olympic champion Jamaica’s Shelly-Anna Fraser-Pryce.

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