Moraa, Chepkoech dance their way to glory at African Games

Kenya's Mary Moraa celebrates. [Xinhua]

Kenyan charges at the 13th African Games in Ghana are unrelenting; overcoming a gold drought and proving that it was one of the continent’s giants on the track.

On Wednesday evening, the country’s resilient athletics stars continued the medal hunt in Accra.

From Mary Moraa’s 400m dazzles and dances to Beatrice Chepkoech’s stylish water and barrier jumping in the steeplechase, Kenya fought off the disappointing  performances from races such as the men’s 10,000m and the women’s 5,000m.

Moraa, the world 800m champion clinched the 400m title as 3,000m steeplechase world record holder, Chepkoech brought home the gold medal in her specialty after an unsatisfactory fourth place in the 5,000m on Monday.

She became the third Kenyan woman in history to take the 400m crown, after Francisca Chepkirui in 1987 and legend Tecla Chemabwai in 1973.

Moraa (Kisii Express) had hours before that anchored the Kenyan 4x400m mixed relay team to a bronze, delivering two medals from the delayed 2023 African Games.

The quartet of Moraa, Peter Sanayek, Mourine Thomas and Kennedy Kimeu clocked 3:18.03 to finish third, behind gold winners Nigeria (Ojeli Ifeanyi, Patience George, Sikiru Adeyemi and Omolara Ogunmakinju) and Botswana (Kebinatshipi Collen, Lydia Jele, Nderi Bayapo and Kamberuka Obakeng), which took the silver medal.

She timed 50.57 ahead of Esther Joseph of Nigeria and Sita Sibiri of Burkina Faso who clocked 51.61 and 51.74 respectively.

“(It is) Such a beautiful feeling making history as the third Kenyan woman to win the 400m final at the African Games. Two medals from Accra after the bronze in 4x400m mixed relay,” said Moraa.

Aaron Chemingwa pulled a huge surprise in the men’s 800m, another Kenyan staple. In a show of power, Chemingwa sprinted to a stunning win, making a name for himself in the two-lap race.

Cheminingwa stopped the timer in 1:45.72 minutes ahead of countryman Alex Kipngetich, who won silver. The Kenyan 1-2 finishers edged Botswana’s Nkape Tumo who took the bronze medal.

Chepkoech destroyed a stellar field to win the women’s 3,000m steeplechase in 9:15.61. Former World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase champion Amos Serem and Simon Kiprop had on Monday produced a 2-3 finish.

She summoned enough momentum to defeat Olympic champion Peruth Jemutai of Uganda, setting the games record at 9.15.62.

Chepkoech and Moraa joined Emily Ngii, who had earlier on Wednesday won a gold medal in the 20km race walk.

Ngii, a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, clocked 1:37:34 ahead of Ethiopian Masire Sintayehu who timed 1:38:07 followed by Souad Azzi of Algeria who finished third in 1:39:43.

Former African Champion Samwel Gathimba clinched silver behind Ethiopia’s Misgana Wakuma Fekasana in a close contest.

The country was however handed a beating in the men’s 10,000m and women’s 800m won by neighbours Ethiopia on Tuesday.

Ethiopia produced a 1-2 finish in the men’s 10,000m, with Melak Bogale winning gold and compatriot Dida Diriba winning silver. Evans Kiptum of Kenya completed the podium finish.

In the women’s 800m Duguma Gemechu of Ethiopia took the title followed by Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda and Kenya’s Vivian Chebet.

Winny Bii demonstrated Kenya’s potential in field events after bagging silver in the women’s triple jump.

Overally, Kenya was 11th on the medal table; with four gold, five silver, and 11 bronze medals – a cumulative 20 medals.

Out of the total of 20 medals by yesterday, 13 came from track and field (all the four gold medals, the five silver and four bronze).

Kenya was yesterday third on the track and field medal table, behind Nigeria (seven gold medals) and Ethiopia (five gold medals).

By AFP 27 mins ago
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