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KENYA’S HISTORIC YEAR: Golden crew that shipped home bullion from foreign lands in 2015

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | December 24th 2015
Ndiku of Kenya reacts after placing second in the men's 5000m event during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing

For the first time since independence, Kenya shot to the top of global athletics at the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing, China, in August.

The good show set adrenaline pulse-racing even as Kenya – the world’s athletics superpower –sets her sights on next year’s Olympic Games, the multi-sport bonanza, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5 to 21.

Kenya made history as the first nation in Africa to win the title with 16 medals – seven gold, six silver and three bronze - in the championships that had 1,936 athletes competing for glory.

The team ventured into new territories as Julius Yego struck Africa’s first gold in javelin, while Nicholas Bett won the 400m hurdles to end a 43-year-old drought for the race title in Africa.

Bett, who trained in a rugged cattle grazing field in his village of Simat in Uasin Gishu County, won Kenya’s 46th gold medal in the history of the IAAF World Championships, which was Africa’s first 400m hurdles gold medal in a global competition since 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, when Uganda’s John Akii-Bua won the 400m hurdles gold.
The 23-year-old Bett, son of former triple jumper Joseph Boit, set a national record of 47.79 in Beijing.

Ezekiel Kemboi, the flamboyant and ‘crazy jigman’ who never ceases to amaze with his celebratory antics, offered an exciting blend to the 2015 athletics season with his fourth title at the World Championships.

Kemboi orchestrated a 1-2-3-4 sweep for Kenya, which was last witnessed when Wilson Boit Kipketer led Moses Kiptanui and Bernard Barmasai in a 1-2-3 sweep in Athens (1997), before Brimin Kipruto anchored Kemboi and Richard Mateelong into another clean sweep in Osaka in 2007.

Julius Yego, the pioneer of the spear in Kenya, released the javelin that sailed in the air for eternity before registering the best throw –days after setting the Africa record of 92.72m in Birmingham, the fourth longest throw in the world.

No Kenyan had ever won a field title – or even a medal – at the IAAF World Championships, but Yego, now sits pretty on top of the world, having ended this streak with a well-earned gold medal.

Vivian Cheruiyot returned to the stage after her maternity break and haunted track rivals Ethiopia as she struck Kenya’s first gold medal in 10,000m in Beijing.

Asbel Kiprop, who won his third straight title in Beijing, did not disappoint as he won the IAAF Diamond League Trophy in Zurich.

On her part, Hyvin Kiyeng, sixth at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, shot to global limelight as she won 3,000m steeplechase gold at the games in Beijing.

David Rudisha’s brilliance in 800m race illuminated the Chinese capital in what clearly showed a steady evolution of Kenyan athletics in the past five decades.

Geoffrey Kamworor, Faith Chepng’etich, Conseslus Kipruto, Caleb Mwangangi, Hela Kiprop, Elijah Manangoi bagged silver, while Eunice Sum, Brimin Kipruto and Paul Tanui won bronze as the Kenyan track and field stars brought smiles to the faces of expectant Kenyans.


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