By AYUMBA AYODI
Boniface Mucheru guided the Africa team to the 4x400m relay victory in Marrakech, Morocco, as Caleb Mwangangi and Jairus Birech failed to wrap up what has been a successful season, during the 2014 Continental Cup champions.
Mucheru started the battle for Africa, taking off the blocks first before South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk anchored in perfect style bringing the small Grande Stade crowd to their feet.
Van Niekerk held off the challenge of Europe’s Martyn Rooney to stop the clock at 3:00.02, Africa’s quickest time at a Continental Cup, with Rooney was just eight hundredths behind in second place, confirming Europe as the 2014 Continental Cup champions.
Africa and Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion Joyce Chepkirui settled for an impressive second in women’s 5,000m behind winner Almaz Ayana.
World 1,500m bronze medallists Hellen Obiri, who is also the Africa champion, and Commonwealth and Africa javelin champion Julius Yego finished fourth in their respective events.
AFRICA IN THIRD POSITION
Mucheru shared US$30,000 (Sh 2.64 milliion) with his five teammates same as Mwangangi and Birech, who won 3,000m and 3,000m steeplechase respectively.
Kenyan athletes pocketed a total of Sh 16million in the championship also known as the World Cup. This is after Eunice Sum (800m) and Isaiah Kiplangat (5,000m) also won their races the previous night with Asbel Kiprop (1,500m) finishing second and Janet Kisa fourth in 3,000m.
Africa, with 339 points, finished third behind winners Europe (447.5) and the Americas (390).
The men’s 4x400m race was meant to be an assured win for the American team that had former Olympics and two-time world champion LaShawn Merritt plus Olympic silver medallist Leguelin Santos and relay specialist Chris Brown of the Bahamas.
Veteran sprinter Kim Collins, who was drafted in as a late replacement for US champion Gil Roberts, proved to be the weak link in the team despite Merritt’s best efforts on the last leg for a distant third place finish in 3:02.78.
In the 3,000m, 21-year-old Mwangangi controlled much of the latter stages of the race, before powering away from Azerbaijani Hayle Ibrahimov down the home stretch to win unchallenged in 7:52.64.
European silver medallist Ibrahimov gave chase, and his persistence was awarded with a runner-up finish in 7:53.14.
Courtesy of nation.co.ke