NAIROBI, Kenya, March 16- The Kenyan national anthem rang eight times at the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala to celebrate another clean medal sweep during Sunday’s Africa Athletics Championships as the inspired red, green and black took the opposition to the clinic in fine style in Uganda.
Two-time world cross-country junior champion and star attraction, Faith Chepng’etich and world cross-country silver medallist, Leonard Barsoton thrilled the sizeable crowds as they anchored Kenya to Africa’s top spots in the signature races.
Chepng’etich, who won the Africa cross-country junior title in South Africa, comfortably won the race in 25:33.02 ahead of Janet Kisa (25:41.30) and Alice Aprot (25:46.48) who was a late inclusion in the team following the withdrawal of World Cross titleholder, Emily Chebet.
Chelimo Faith (26:02.60) and Ethiopia’s Bekele Alemu Tadelech (26:14.03) closed the top five.
“I broke away from the surging Ethiopians. We have achieved ourv target of winning gold, silver and bronze here. I simply used my junior race winning style here. I will strive to make a team for Commonwealth Games,” Chepng’etich, who continued her winning streak despite the change of co-sign told.
Barsoton, a Japan based runner, won the men’s long race in 34:26.12 in a clean podium sweep for Kenya. Cornelius KIpruto (34:56.45) and Philemon Rono (35:01.88) settled for silver and bronze medals.
“I could take the heat after training in Japan’s hot grounds. I will leave for Japan end month and come back to battle for place in World Junior team to Oregon,” the Nandi born winner who also stepped up the ladder to senior running this season gushed.
Agnes Jebet Tirop and Moses Mukono clinched the junior races to complete the superlative performance as they set the stage for the gold rush with brilliant wins in the women and men 6km junior races.
Eritrea and Ethiopia denied Kenya clean sweeps in both events although the team titles were secured.
Jebet, the World Cross medallist, pulled a fast one against stiff Ethiopian challenge, winning the six-kilometre race as her country’s anthem became the first to be played at the ceremonial grounds.
The Form Two Student at Kosirai Secondary School in Uasin Gishu Country proved she was no push-over as she blew away Ethiopian challenge to win in 18:50.5 in an afternoon of high drama.
Ethiopia’s Heroye Banata Alemitu settled for silver in 19:05.1 as Nancy Nziza (19:16.71), World Junior 3,000m champion Roseline Chepng’etich (19:35.71) and World Youth 3,000m champion Lilian Kasait (19:50.74) came home to wrap the top five.
Jebet, who won World Junior 5000m bronze medal in Barcelona in 2012, explained she could not betray her surname which means ‘one born at broad day light’ in her dialect despite her dream of leading her compatriots to a clean sweep going up in smoke.
“I wanted Kenya to win the top-three positions here at day light. I tried to hold back but I feared the Ethiopians could catch up with me,” said Jebet.
Kenya managed to hold a firm grip on the junior women overall title even as Ethiopia and hosts Uganda settled for silver and bronze medals respectively.
Kasait, a primary school pupil in Pokot Central, wound up fifth and aided Kenya in overall title defence bid.
Africa junior 5000m champion Mukono showed no respective for his opponents as he strolled to victory in 22:36.80. Andrew Lorot (22:36.80) and Eritrea’s (22:50.19) bagged silver and bronze as John Kiprono Langat (22:58.70), Hillary Kipkemoi (23: 01.97) and Emmanuel Bett (23:11.12) followed.
Mukono, who failed to impress at the 2013 World Cross in Poland, led school mate at Nairobi’s Riruta Central Andrew Lorot to top-two spots here.
“I won this race so easily. I slowed the pace but when I realized the opposition were not so strong, I fired away. I now prepare for the IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships in Oregon. I will also try if I can manage the team to Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland,” the eloquent athlete told.
But Lorot, who competed in his maiden race in the national colours, said he feared Ugandans would ruin their party here.
The athlete from Lelan area in Pokot South said: “I have problem with starting. I always pick up a bit late that’s how I clawed back to second position.
Mukono, however, broke away from the four-kilometre mark leaving Lorot and Kiprono to do the chasing.
Kenya snatched back the overall junior men team title from Ethiopia, which sets the stage for a bruising battle at the 41th IAAF World Cross-Country Championships in China next year.
1 Moses Mukono KEN 22:36.80
2 Andrew Lorot KEN 22:50.19
3 Berhane Afewerki ERI 22:56.45
4 Langat Kiprono KEN 22:58.70
5 Langat Kipkemoi KEN 23:01.97
1 Agnes Jebet Tirop KEN 18:50.74
2 Alemitu Heroye ETH 19:04.73
3 Nancy Nzisa KEN 19:16.18
4 Rosefline Chepngetich KEN 19:39.71
5 Kasait rengeruk KEN 19:50.74
1 Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon KEN 25:33.02
2 Janet Kisa KEN 25:41.30
3 Alice Nawowuna Aprot KEN 25:46.48
4 Edith Chelimo KEN 26:02.48
5 Alemu Bekele ETH 26:10.84
1. Leonard Barsoton (KEN) 1994 34:26
2. Cornelius Kangogo (KEN) 1993 34:56
3. Philemon Rono (KEN) 1991 35:02
4. Solomon Kirwa Yego (KEN) 1987 35:15
5. Philip Langat (KEN) 1990 35:20