BY MUIGAI KIGURU AND AGENCIES
Fresh from winning the 10,000m Commonwealth title in Glasgow, Joyce Chepkirui lived to her billing, scooping the African crown over the distance on Wednesday night.
Kenya had fielded the same three women who filled the podium at the Commonwealth Games with Florence Kiplagat and Emily Chebet as the others. Chepkirui once again came out on top, only this time it was much closer with just 0.01 separating her from Chebet, the two-time world cross-country champion.
It was, however, a bad day in office for Kiplagat, who left the way clear for Ethiopia’s Belaynesh Oljira to replicate her finish from last year’s World Championships, taking the bronze medal four seconds behind the Kenyan duo. World and Commonwealth Games 800m champion Eunice Sum and former Olympic 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop romped into the finals of their respective races.
Sum was a comfortable winner of her heat, clocking 2:02.43. Kenyan team-mate Agatha Jeruto also impressed, setting a PB of 1:59.88 to win her heat, while the other heat was won by Ethiopian teenager Tigist Assefa. World champion Kiprop won his 1,500m heat in 3:43.87 from world junior record-holder Ronald Kwemoi and world indoor champion Ayanleh Souleiman. All the three could well challenge for the top three spots in the final too. The other heat was won by 2012 world indoor bronze medallist Mekonnen Gebremedhin with Commonwealth champion James Magut and world bronze medallist Johan Cronje also advancing by right.
Meanwhile, ten years after winning her first African title, South African javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen won the gold medal in Marrakech. Of the four African titles she has now won, this was her most impressive. She opened her campaign by breaking the championship record with 63.39m. She then added almost another two metres to that with a season’s best of 65.32m. After two throws in the 57-metre region, she rounded out her series with 62.23m and 65.21m. Her nearest opponent, Ghana’s Mary Nartey, finished almost 13 metres adrift.
Viljoen, who took bronze at the 2011 IAAF World Championships and holds the African record with 69.35m, now has more javelin gold medals from the African Championships than any other athlete, male or female, in the 35-year history of the event. It also gave Viljoen some minor consolation after she recently missed out on winning what would have been a third Commonwealth title, eventually settling for the silver medal in Glasgow.
Winner of the 100m title two days ago, Ivory Coast’s Hua Wilfried Koffi was the fastest in the 200m rounds, clocking 20.32 in the semis and adding another national record to his collection. 400m champion Isaac Makwala was just 0.02 behind in the same race.
Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure and Marie Josee Ta Lou, the silver and bronze medallists in the 100m, also won their 200m semi-finals. Two days ago, Mokoena lost out on the gold medal in the long jump by just six centimetres, but today he won the triple jump by the same margin.
Having returned to the event this season after a seven-year hiatus, Mokoena picked up his second major title in as many weeks, winning with a leap of 17.03m. Just like at the Commonwealth Games earlier this month, defending champion Tosin Oke had to settle for second place.
Having taken the silver medal in 2008, followed by bronze medals in 2010 and 2012, African record-holder Mostafa Al-Gamel finally won the gold medal in the men’s hammer.
The 25-year-old was utterly dominant, and broke the championship record in the first round with 79.09m, the second-best throw of his career after the African record of 81.27m he set earlier this year. Each of his valid subsequent throws would have been sufficient to win from defending champion and six-time winner Chris Harmse (73.90m)
Algeria’s defending champion Yasmina Omrani had a significant overnight lead in the heptathlon, but her hopes of a second successive title came crashing down after picking up an injury in warm-up for the long jump, forcing her to withdraw.
Burundi’s Marthe Koala, having set a season’s best of 6.03m in the long jump, then took up the lead. She rounded out the competition with PBs in the javelin (37.41m) and 800m (2:31.61) to take the overall title with a national record of 5454.
Courtesy of the-star.co.ke