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Kenyans rule track

WEIRD NEWS
By | December 27th 2011

By CHRIS MUSUMBA

Kenyans athletes excelled in almost all international track meetings that they took part in 2011. From Cape Town to Melbourne, Eugene to Daegu, Kenyan athletes have reined on the discipline like never before winning almost everything that was offered.

In Punta Umbria, Spain, it scooped all the individual medals save for the 12km men race that was won by Ethiopian Imana Merga.

But it was gold for Geoffrey Kipsang, Faith Chepng’etich and Vivian Cheruiyot.

It was worse in South Africa also in March. With 19 countries converging in Cape Town, Kenyan runners won all the medals on offer at the inaugural African Cross country championships. There was little opposition for the Kenyan team in the absence of their long time cross-country rivals Ethiopia, who missed the event due to travel hitches.

John Mwangangi led a sweep of the top four positions in the men’s 12km taking the gold, Former World junior cross-country champion Mercy Cherono ruled supreme in her first major cross country senior race winning the women’s 8km in which Kenyans took the top five spots.

The juniors also swept the boards with Josphat Korir and Caroline Chepkoech were declared champions as Kenyans occupied the top six positions in both races.

Africa Junior

In May, Kenya travelled to Gaborone, Botswana, eyeing to sweep the medal podium. Two years before in Bambous, Mauritius (2009), Africa witnessed the blooming of the South African middle distance prodigy Caster Semenya, who took the world by storm over her speed in the 800m race.

Semenya, has since faded away and a new generation of runners like Faith Chepngetich, Cherono Koech and Nicholas Togom blossomed from the Africa Junior Athletics Championships, the tenth edition, in Gaborone in May.

South Africa emerged with most medals from the competition, 34 total with 13 gold, 13 silver and eight bronze medal. This was twice as many medals as Ethiopia in second place with 17 medals and six gold. Kenya was third as its saw the flourishing of Hillary Maiyo and Geoffrey Barusei in the 1,500m race. The competition was highlighted by a string of great middle and long distance running results with competition records not just bettered but crushed in many events.

Dominant show

In Lille France in July, Kenya was second to the United States of America at the World Youth Championships. The US won with 16 medals – six gold, four silver and six bronze ahead of Kenya which had 14, five gold, five silver and four bronze with Jamaica third.

This event saw some spectacular performances from youngsters like William Malel Sitonik in 3,000m and a championship record from Leonard Kirwa Konsecha in the 800m race. Ironically, Konsecha comes from the same village as world record holder and champion David Rudisha.

Konsecha blasted his way to a World Youth best of 1:44.08 to leave the former mark of 1:44.34, which had belonged to Bahrain’s Belal Mansoor Ali since 2005, erased from the record books. The question now, is where does Konsecha go from here?

Curiously, the boys 800m is one of the very few events at the World Youth Championships where all of the former champions have failed to get a medal at a global championship in the senior ranks.

Kenyans have now won the boys 800m at four of the seven editions of the World Youth Championships.

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