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Kenya’s wait for 10,000m title continues as Barega strikes gold

Rodgers Kwemoi, Mohammed Ahmed of Canada and Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda in action REUTERS

Kenya’s wait for a 10,000m men gold at the Olympics will continue after Rhonex Kipruto, Rodgers Kwemoi and Weldon Langat failed in the latest bid.

The Kenyan trio worked hard against an Ethiopian and Ugandan onslaught at the 2020 Olympics Games at Tokyo Stadium on Friday but Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega sprinted to a gold medal with Ugandan’s Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo taking the other medals on offer.

Barega clocked 27:43.22 for first place while the world record holder Cheptegei timed 27:43.63 for silver with his compatriot Kiplimo stopping the clock in 27:43.88 to win the bronze medal.

Kwemoi was the top Kenyan in seventh place after 27:50.6 but was quick to point out that Kenyans should not lose hope in them, saying the Olympic gold over the distance will still come despite the 53-year wait.

“I had a stomach problem on Thursday but was advised I should not take any medication ahead of the race, so I was forced to soldier on and I am not disappointed with the seventh place.

“You could see I pushed them all the way and they only beat me in the final stretch as I could no longer summon some energy to sprint. If I was in good health I think we would have won a medal,” Kwemoi said.

His counterpart Langat, who was running in his first Olympics, said he was affected by the heat, but is still proud with the way they fought against the likes of Cheptegei, who he said he was racing against for the first time.

Before the 10,000m final, Friday was a day of mixed results for Kenya.

While many expected the men 3,000m steeplechase and the women 800m heats to be smooth sailing, it was far from that as three Kenyans failed to make it past their first race on the track here in Tokyo. Benjamin Kigen and Abraham Kibiwott had started the day well for Kenya after safely going through to the 3,000m steeplechase final on Monday after finishing in the top three positions which meant automatic qualification to the final.

Leonard Bett however ripped the Kenyan script apart when he failed to finish in the top three positions in heat three.  

His time of 8:19.62 in finishing fifth in his heat was still even slower for the six fastest losers in the three heats.

It was almost a similar script in the women 800m heats with only Mary Moraa qualifying for the semi-finals set for Saturday at 2:50pm

Eunice Sum and Emily Tuei fall by the way side leaving young Moraa to fight a lone battle in the race to book a slot in the finals.

High jumper Mathew Sawe, who was making a debut at the Olympics posted 2.17m to finish in last place in the qualification round in the morning.

Kenya's Hellen Obiri celebrates after winning the women's 5000 meter race with a world leading time during the Diamond League athletics meeting at the Louis II stadium in Monaco Friday, Aug. 14, 2020.( AP)

The night session however was to bring good tidings for Kenya as the 5,000m women trio all sailed through to Monday’s final. World champion Hellen Obiri led Agnes Tirop and Lillian Kasait into the final with a promise for Olympic gold.

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