Athletics Athletics

Istanbul heroes set for night return


NAIROBI, Kenya, March 12- The national team from the just concluded World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, are set to arrive on Tuesday morning.

They are scheduled to arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 2am local time (+3GMT) with a reception planned later in the morning as the country celebrates her best ever showing at the biennial event where they finished fourth.

Women 800m Olympics champion, Pamela Jelimo, earned her nation their first gold at the event on Sunday when she raced a world leading 1:58.23 before 25 minutes later, Helen Obiri stunned four-time champion, Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar in the women’s 3000m race to clinch gold in 8:37.16.

Both pocketed $40,000 (Sh3.28m) each for their victories as Augustine Choge and Edwin Soi completed the medal haul from Istanbul with silver and bronze in the men 3000m race.

“We will host them at Riadha House at 9am before allowing them to break for London Olympics preparations. They had promised Kenyans a best ever performance and they achieved that so we congratulate them deeply,” Athletics Kenya relations officer, Peter Angwenyi said on Monday.

Others in the Istanbul team included twice Worlds women 5000m silver medallist, Sylvia Kibet who finished fourth in the 3000m final as well as Commonwealth champion, Boaz Lalang and the Commonwealth Youth Games titleholder, Timothy Kitum bid exited the men 800m at the semi final stage.

Commonwealth champion and Worlds silver winner, Isaiah Kiplagat who finished sixth at the men 1500m final and newcomer Bethwell Birgen who did not progress past the first round of the same event complete the Istanbul line-up.

Their performance surpassed the 2006 edition benchmark for Kenya where Olympics men 800m champion; Wilfred Bungei won his country’s first ever gold medal at the World Indoors.

“The showing will motivate our athletes who are training for the London Olympics by moving up from position 16 in Doha two years ago to fourth here.”