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Bronze for Kisa, Cherono fifth, Blessing sparkles

BLESSING-OKAGBAREMARAKKECH, August 12- Kenya’s wait for a first gold medal at the 11th Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Morocco poured into Day 3 of the biennial continental showpiece after Janet Kisa took the bronze medal in the women 5000m final.

Commonwealth champion, Mercy Cherono (16:08.81) was well beaten into fifth with Kisa clocking 15:54.05 for the third medal ahead of compatriot Margaret Wangare as the Kenyan trio trailed each other across the line.

In perhaps one of the biggest shocks so far, Worlds bronze medallist, Almaz Ayana prevailed over fellow Ethiopian and World Indoors 3000m champion, Genzebe Dibaba in the final sprint for gold in 15:32.72 to take off eight seconds from teh Championship Record.

Genzebe bagged silver ten seconds adrift.

The men 800m showdown continues Tuesday with the clash between Botswana Commonwealth champion, Nijel Amos and Ethiopian World Indoor crown holder, Mohammed Aman, still on the cards after both made the semi finals.

Aman and Olympic silver medallist Amos were drawn in the same heat, but both of them finished in an automatic qualifying spot, the Ethiopian winning from the Botswana hero, 1:46.63 to 1:46.73.

Kenyan champion Ferguson Cheruiyot won the first heat in 1:45.80, while compatriot Evans Kipkorir won the third heat in 1:48.66 with Olympic 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi grabbing the last of the qualifying spots in second place (1:48.90).

African record-holder Isaac Makwala and Botswanan team-mate Pako Seribe were the fastest qualifiers for the men’s 400m final, clocking 45.58 and 45.62 respectively.

Nicholas Bett was the top performer in the men’s 400m hurdles heats, clocking 49.33 – the fastest performance by a Kenyan athlete for 15 years. Commonwealth champion Cornel Fredericks also easily advanced, winning his heat in 50.15.

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Nigeria’s Okagbare was fresh from winning the Commonwealth Games sprint double just two weeks ago, but she showed no signs of tiredness. And just like at the Commonwealth Games, Okagbare won the 100m in a championship record.

This time, not only did she face double world silver medallist Murielle Ahoure, but she also had to contest with a stiff -1.4m/s headwind. She dealt with both, though, and came through strong at the end to win in 11.00, taking 0.03 off the championship record she set when winning this title in 2010.

It was her fifth gold medal from the African Championships. In 2010 she won the 100m, long jump and 4x100m, then two years later she picked up another gold medal in the long jump.

“When I saw Ahoure in front of me, I did not panic,” said Okagbare, who became the first athlete ever to win the Commonwealth and African 100m titles in the same year. “I stayed patient, I pushed through and I won.”

Ahoure took the silver medal in 11.03 from compatriot Marie Josee Ta Lou, who set a PB of 11.20.

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