Junior stars bag four gold, five silver and two bronze medals in Addis

Kenya bagged 11 medals – four gold, five silver and two bronze – to finish fifth at the Africa junior athletics championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday.

The overall winners were Nigeria (12,8,7), followed by South Africa (9,7,7), Ethiopia (6,12,10) and Egypt (5,5,3).

Kenya’s gold medal winners were Abraham Kibiwott (3,000m steeplechase), Abraham Kiptoo (1500m), Patrick Kiprotich (800m) and Stella Ruto (3000m steeplechase.

The silver medallists were Gilbert Kwemoi (1,500m), Davis Lagat (10,000m), Jonah Kipruto (800m), Alexander Sampao (400m) and Frederick Kiptoo (5,000m).

The two bronze medallists were Sandra Chebet (3000m) and Daniel Kipkemoi (5000m.

Athletics Kenya first vice president David Okeyo hailed the performance of the team and said despite finishing fifth overall it was a commendable effort.

“I think the team did a very good job. Coming fifth is not bad because there is room for improvement,” Okeyo said.

Kenya had a poor outing in the sprints with Maureen Nyatichi finishing sixth in the 200m final (24.79). Winning the race was Nigerian Praise Idamadudu (23.76) followed by Ethiopia’s Tegest Tamangnu (23.84) and Nigerian Aniekeme Alphonsus (24.19).

Okeyo reiterated the need to tap talent in sprints and field events where Kenya lost to Nigeria, and South Africa and Egypt in the final medal tally.

“Its an area we have to develop as a country. If we can have youngsters competing in sprint and field events from a young age, we can match the best in Africa,” Okeyo noted.

Elsewhere Kenyan born Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa of Bahrain won the 2015 Nagoya Women’s Marathon on Sunday in 2:22:08, the fastest time in the history of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

The course was changed in 2010 when the race went from being an elite-only to a mass-participation event, but Kirwa’s winning time was faster than the previous course record of 2:22:19, recorded 15 years ago by 2000 Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi.

“I did not expect to run such a fast time,” said Kirwa after recording the second-fastest performance of her career and extending her winning streak to four marathons. “I was thinking of a time around 2:23, so I am satisfied with my time. I always wanted to run the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, so I am happy to win the race today.”

Finishing second in 2:22:27 was 40-year-old Mariya Konovalova of Russia. Before today, the fastest marathon by a woman older than 40 was 2:24:54 by Irina Mikitenko at the 2013 Berlin Marathon. Konovalova improved on that mark by more than two minutes. Konovalova, a world finalist over 5000m 20 years ago, had a previous PB of 2:22:46.

Placing third overall – and, more importantly, finishing as the top Japanese woman – was Sairi Maeda. Running just the second marathon of her career, Maeda improved her personal best by nearly four minutes from 2:26:46 to 2:22:48, moving to eighth on the national all-time list with the fastest performance by a Japanese woman since 2007.Championships in Beijing.

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