NAIROBI, Kenya, July 28- Kenyans did not have to wait long for retribution against arch rivals Ethiopia reclaiming the African 10,000 metres crown at on day one of the African Athletics Championships.
Two years ago in Addis Ababa, Kenya were embarrassed by hosts Ethiopia who swept the podium in the 25 lap race but on Thursday, the tables were turned in spectacular fashion at Nyayo National Stadium.
Wilson Kiprop was the lead actor in a brilliant Kenya performance as the hosts
brushed aside the Ethiopian challenge winning gold in 27:32.91 infront of a rapturous crowd.
Working in tandem, Geoffrey Mutai clinched bronze with Uganda’s Moses
Kispsiro separating the duo with silver in 27:33.37. The third Kenyan Mathew Kisorio could only manage fourth paying the price for his excellent pace making duties.
“I am feeling very, very good because we opened the finals here with a win and we have already put the Kenya ahead with one gold medal so it’s very wonderful,” said Kiprop after his win.
“We ran as a team because when you saw how it went, at first I was in the lead then my team mates took over. We were trying to help one another,” said Kiprop.
Olympic Silver medallist Sileshi Sihine dropped out of the race with eight laps to go after falling way behind the leading pack halfway through the race. He and Yakob Jarso shadowed the Kenyan contingent for initial stages of the race but struggled to keep up with the blistering pace set by the locals.
“The race was so tough and as you could see, the Ethiopians struggled
with the high altitude,” said Mutai.
Clearly running as a team, Kenyans took turns in setting most of the early pace but with 11 laps to go, Kisorio made a big move with couple of fats laps that reduce dthe leading pack to four.
Kipsiro was the only athlete to survive the onslaught and even though Kisorio-who had been taking medication for malaria, fell back to a distant fourth but the hardwork had been done.
It was also a red letter day for the hosts in the 800m heats with all local competitors qualifying for the Thursday’s semi finals.
Defending champion David Rudisha won his heat in a time of 1:50.51 while Alfred Kirwa also triumphed in 1:48.66. Jackson Kivuva will also feature in the semis.
Kenya’s men also had a successive outing in the 400m heats with Geoffrey Ngeno, Mark Mutai and Anderson Mureta making the semis.