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KENYA’S GOLDEN YEAR: 2016 witnessed one of the best shows for local athletes both on the road and track

OLYMPICS By JONATHAN KOMEN | December 24th 2016
2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Victory Ceremony - Women's 5000m Victory Ceremony - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 19/08/2016. Gold medalist Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) of Kenya and silver medalist Hellen Obiri (KEN) of Kenya pose with their medals. REUTERS

The 2016 athletics season had fairy tales that would be fit for Oscar Awards.

Kenyans' performance at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro stands out as one of their best in 53 years of independence. They bagged six gold medals, six silvers and a bronze to finish second in track and field medal count behind USA.

From the fourth Africa Cross Country Championships held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland to big city marathons and the 14-leg IAAF Diamond League meetings, the Kenyan stars were absolutely stunning at the finish line.

Vivian Cheruiyot and Eliud Kipchoge, the bane of Kenya’s archrivals Ethiopia, stood out this season.

Kipchoge won Olympic marathon, London Marathon, World Marathon Majors series jackpot crowns and was honoured with the Association of International Marathon Series award.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after winning the Men's Marathon athletics event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Sambodromo in Rio de Janeiro on August 21, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN

The 31-year old Kipchoge broke the world record for 30km with 1:27:13 mark and clocked a marathon season’s best of 2:03:05.

2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Victory Ceremony - Women's 1500m Victory Ceremony - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 17/08/2016. Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon (KEN) of Kenya poses with her gold medal. REUTERS

On her part, Cheruiyot won the Olympics 5000m title and picked silver medal in 10,000m in Rio after clocking 29:32.53, the third-fastest time ever. She emerged as the first Kenyan woman to win 5,000m Olympics gold medal.

The Olympics team ventured into new territories as Julius Yego struck silver in javelin, which was the first field event medal while Boniface Mucheru bagged a rare 400m hurdles silver medal.

Conseslus Kipruto won Olympics 3000m steeplechase title with a Games record of 8:03.28 and the Diamond League Trophy.

The 21-year old won seven of eight steeplechase Diamond League meetings and clocked a world lead of 8:00.12 in Birmingham meeting.

2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Final - Men's 3000m Steeplechase Final - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 17/08/2016. Conseslus Kipruto (KEN) of Kenya gestures as he crosses the finish line to win the gold. REUTERS

He also produced the five fastest performances of the year.

David Rudisha successfully defended his Olympics title with a 1:42.15 world lead, the world’s quickest time since 2012. He became the second fastest of all time at 600m with 1:13.10.

Jemimah Sumgong, 31, also enjoyed an impressive year having won London Marathon in April in 2:22:58 before winning Kenya’s first women’s Olympics marathon title.

It has been a spectacular year for Faith Chepng’etich, who beat Ethiopia’s world record holder Genzebe Dibaba to win Olympics 1,500m gold medal.

Maureen Nyatichi Thomas became the first Kenyan to reach the finals of the 400m during the World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Poland in July.

Paul Tanui won Olympics 10,000m silver medal with a season's best of 27: 05.64 and Hyvin Kiyeng, the world 3000m steeplechase champion, settled for silver in the Olympics.

Haroun Koech won the Africa 400m hurdles bronze medal and reached finals in the Rio Olympics while Augustine Choge, the former Commonwealth 5000m champion, made a comeback to win bronze in 3000m at the World Indoor Championships in USA.

Alex Kiprotich won bronze in the Africa Senior athletics javelin throw while Mathew Sawe won the Africa Senior men’s high jump title after he cleared a height of 2.21m, to miss his debut in the Olympic Games by 21 centimetres.

Maureen Jelagat, who has had numerous false starts in major championships, settled for silver in 400m hurdles at the continental showpiece.

Jelagat, who is the national 400m hurdles champion, anchored the 4x400m relays team to bronze medal at the Africa Senior Athletics championship.

Gold medalist Kenya's Jemima Jelagat Sumgong reacts during the podium ceremony for the Women's Marathon during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Sambodromo in Rio de Janeiro on August 14, 2016. / AFP PHOTO

Margaret Nyairera bagged the Africa Senior Athletics 400m silver medal and settled for bronze in the longer 800m at the Olympics.

Grace Wanjiru made her maiden appearance at the Olympic Games this year and finished 42nd after taking the African Senior Athletics title in South Africa with a record of one hour 30minutes and 43 seconds in the 20km race walking competition.

Samuel Gathimba also made his debut at the Rio Games after taking the African title in South Africa with a championship and national record of one hour 19 minutes and 24 seconds in the men’s 20km walk.

Abel Kirui staged a splendid comeback since winning the 2011 IAAF World Championships marathon title in Daegu, South Korea to win the 39th edition of the Chicago marathon.

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