Chaotic start to Africa meet in Cameroon

400m athlete Kelvin Korir after competing at the African Senior Athletics Championships in Douala, Cameroon on Friday. [AK Media]

Kenya began the African Senior Athletics Championships in Douala, Cameroon on Friday with mixed results in event marked by poor organization, delayed start and poor sound in starting blocks making it difficult for athletes to attain Olympics qualification standards.

Despite all the shambolic organization Kenya’s kelvin Korir and Mercy Chebet began the event in blistering fashion with Korir clocking 46.16sec to win the men’s 400m heat while Chebet was in a superb form to rule the women’s race in 53.42.

“I felt my body responded well with the hot weather, so in the final I will want push for a better time and ensure I finish in the medal bracket,” said Korir. 

In a quest to win the country’s first medal in the only track final of the day in the women’s 5000m Rebecca Mwangi faded in the last 10m to the finish line to settle for fourth place, in a race won by Ethiopia's Fantaye Belayneh with her compatriot Wubrist Aschal taking home bronze. 

Kenya's national team coach Julius Kirwa, decried the poor organization citing that it’s going to deny his athletes a chance to hit the Olympic qualifying time before the Paris Games.

“I have never seen athletes come to the running block and waits for 33 minutes for the start and the way the place is hot, they have resorted to using wooded block for starting the races, definitely the blocks are not synchronized with a photo finish equipment, so the times that will be attained at this championship will not be certified or be recognized by World Athletics. I don’t think Cameroon were ready to host the championships,” said Kirwa. 

Cameroon last hosted the African Athletics Championships in 1996 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in the capital Yaounde. 

The Central African nation was in line to be the venue for the 22nd edition of the event, but it was taken to Mauritius due to delays by the Cameroonian authorities. 

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