• Ethiopians sweep steeplechase as Kenyans falter on track

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Sep 12, 2011-

After a rather successful showing at the World Athletics championships, Kenyan athletes began the All African Games on a rather wrong footing managing only a bronze in the women's 5000m as Ethiopia swept the medals in the men's 3000m Steeplechase.

Athletics, the main programme of the event was not spared from the disorder that has been synonymous with the 10th edition of the games here in Maputo with athletes having to cope up with delays and erroneous measurements in the field events.

The only impressive result came from the Paralympic events where Kenya picked its first medal in the men’s T46 through Abraham Tarbei in 14:00.53 with Jonah Chesuba also from Kenya taking the silver in 14:02.03. Stanley Cheruiot finished fourth behind Ugandan David Emong.

Hnery Nzunge won the Gold in the men's 400m T12 in 50.37 with Jonas Sum taking bronze in the same race. 

Birhan Getahun Shiferaw, a finalist at the World championships in South Korea was clear on his intent to win the steeplechase race and probably make up for Ethiopians dismal performance as he closely shadowed two of the three Kenyans in the race (Willy Komen, a former World junior champion and Jairus Birech) as they paced up the field.

The Kenyans had no response to Ethiopia's tact in the last lap of the race, as they sprinted away to the medals with Birech clearly struggling to keep up with the zooming trio. Shiferaw led his teammates in a rare sweep of the medals in Kenya's traditional event in 8:17.36. Roba Gari Chubeta placed second (8:18.42) with Sisay Koreme third (8:20.72). Birech placed fourth with Komen, the most experienced of the field ranking a disappointing sixth in 8:24.57.

"This is the worst time of my career,"admitted Komen who is coming off an injury that had kept him out of competition for close to two years.

"Yes I was not fit for this event but to lose 1-2-3 in steeplechase? No it’s painful and embarrassing," he added clearly disappointed with his performance.

The North Africans used the same tact on their rivals in the women's 5000m. They let Pauline Korikwiang, a former 3000m world junior champion and Esther Ndiema run upfront for most of the 12 lap race before unleashing a devastating kick at the bell with Korikwiang who will also run the 10000m event, racing to catch up with the sprinting duo of Sule Etura and Emebet Mengistu. Etura won the Gold clocking 15:38.70 with her compatriot Mengistu settling for silver in 15:40.13 as Korikwiang picked the bronze in 15:40.93.

All the Kenyans qualified strongly for the finals of the men and women 800m with favourite Boaz Lalang impressing in his qualifying heat where he ranked first in 1:49.5. “Am in good shape, the track is good but the tail wind especially after the first bend is bad.I will also try and go for the gold in the 1500m,”said Lalang one of the four Kenyan runners who will be doubling here in Maputo.

David Mutua also crossed the line first in 1:48.7 in heat two while Job Kinyor ranked second in his heatin 1:47.8 behind Algerian Taoufik Makihoufi(1:47.5) Nelly Jepkosgei qualified third in 2:06.54 from her hear won by Ugandan Annette Ngesa (2.05.68) while Sylvia Cheseba (2:07.68) and Jane Jelagat (2:08.01)finished second and third from the second heat.

 

Evelyn Watta in Maputo

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