NAIROBI, Kenya, August 13- Jairus Birech and Hellen Obiri ended Kenya’s wait for gold at the 19th Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Morocco on a night the country’s runners re-established distance running supremacy following a stuttering start to the biennial competition.
Birech, who surprisingly going by this season’s form, lost the Commonwealth title to Jonathan Ndiku, reversed the roles when he led the freshly minted Club Games winner to the altar as triple world and two-time Olympics champion, won his second bronze for the Kenyan 3000m steeplechase podium sweep.
Before the dust settled, Worlds bronze medallist Hellen Obiri gave Kenya the second top medal in the women’s 1500m as she turned the tables on Commonwealth champion, Faith Chepng’etich who was forced down to fifth.
Birech took the honours in 8:34.79 with Ndiku clocking 8:37.67 for the second medal, two seconds ahead of Kemboi who saw his dreams of winning a first ever African title end for another edition.
Birech who settled for silver in Glasgow, will now turn his attention to the Diamond League where he just needs a point to lift the coveted circuit trophy.
It was revenge of some sorts for Obiri who was forced to sixth at the Club Games against the athlete was unstoppable at the day Chepng’etich as she crossed the line unchallenged in a rather pedestrian 4:09.53.
Chepg’etich a former world junior champion faded to fifth in 4:13.46 while Selah Jepleting was eighth in a race that Ethiopian Dawit Seyaum bagged silver while Moroccan Rababa Arafi gave the hosts bronze.
In the men’s 800m, inform Botswana’s Amos Nijel was in his own class after defeating Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman to add the continental crown to his Commonwealth gold.
Kenyans Ferguson Rotich and Evans Kipkorir found the going tough to finish outside the medal bracket in fourth and fifth respectively.
After proving to be too good to Olympic and World record holder David Rudisha, Nijel clocked 1:48.54 to grab the honours ahead of the World Indoor champion took silver in 1:48.74, two-hundredth of a second deciding the winner in a flying finish.
Defending champion Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi settled for bronze in 1:49.74.
In sprints, Borniface Mucheru failed to better his Porto Novo performance after bagging bronze once again in the 400m in 45.07 behind Bostwana’s Isaac Makwala who won gold in 44.23 to set a new championship record ahead of South African Wayde Van Niekerk.
Maureen Jelagat finished fifth in the corresponding women’s race while Nicholas Bett settled for the third medal over the 400m Hurdles.
Kenya finished fourth in both men and women’s 4x100m relays with the quartet of Stephen Barasa, Solomon Buoga, Tonny Chirchir and Walter Moenga clocking 40.10 as Nigeria, Ghana and Algeria ran to the podium.
400 m men
1 Isaac MAKWALA BOT 44.23 RC
2 Wayde VAN NIEKERK RSA 45.00
3 Boniface MUCHERU KEN 45.07
4 Savior KOMBE ZAM 45.27
5 Mohamed KHWAJA LBA 45.40
1 Nijel AMOS BOT 1:48.54
2 Mohammed AMAN ETH 1:48.74
3 Taoufik MAKHLOUFI ALG 1:49.08
4 Ferguson Rotich KEN 1:49.10
5 Evans KIPKORIR KEN 1:49.47
6 Alberto MAMBA MOZ 1:49.63
7 Antoine GAKEME BDI 1:49.74
8 Amine ELMANAOUI MAR 1:49.93
1 Hellen Obiri OSANDO KEN 4:09.53
2 Dawit SEYAUM BIRATU ETH 4:10.92
3 Rabab ARAFI MAR 4:12.08
4 Axumawit EMBAYE ABRAHA ETH 4:13.27
5 Faith Chepnget KIPYEGON KEN 4:13.46
6 Habiba GHRIBI TUN 4:14.51
7 Baso SADO ETH 4:17.51
8 Selah JEPLETING KEN 4:19.24
9 Sanae ELOTHMANI MAR 4:21.61
10 Merhawit GHIDE ERI 4:30.03
3000m steeple chase men
1 Jairus Kipchoge BIRECH KEN 8:34.79
2 Jonathan Ndiku MUIA KEN 8:37.67
3 Ezekiel KEMBOI KEN 8:39.30
4 Chala BEYO TECHO ETH 8:40.02
5 Amor YAHIA TUN 8:44.61
6 Hamid EZZINE MAR 8:46.90
7 Tafese SOBOKA JIMMA ETH 8:50.31
8 Abrham HABTE ERI 8:50.37
9 Jaouad CHEMLAL MAR 8:52.50
10 Soufiane ELBAKKALI MAR 8:59.66