Sudanese sprinter Nawal El Jack and Lydia Wafula (Kenya) emerged clear winners in their races on the opening day at the Africa Junior Championships being staged at the Rades Stadium.
In the women’s 400m, El Jack took a commanding lead on the back straight. Sensing a comfortable victory, she eased up on the home straight and crossed the finish line in 53.94. Senegal’s Fatou Soumah Ndeye (56.33) followed ahead of Sudan’s Jaber Moura (58.20).
“I was confident of victory in the first half of the race. All I wanted was the gold medal. I am saving energy for the 200m and 400m hurdles, as well as the relays,” says El Jack who is also the World Youth Champion in the one lap event.
The day’s first final witnessed a thrilling final sprint in the women’s 800m. Kenya’s Lydia Wafula edged past Moura Jaber (Sudan) and Girma Chaltu of Ethiopia, to win in a career best of 2:02.84. Jaber (2:04.24) was runner-up ahead of Chaltu (2:04.87). “After finishing fifth at the World Junior Championships last year, I was determinded today to make the Kenya flag fly high,” said Wafula.
Kenyans also prevailed in their thrilling duels with their arch rivals Ethiopia in the women’s flat 3000m and the men’s 3000m Steeplechase.
In the former, the medal winners were once again decided in a sprint for the finish line. Mercy Wanjiru (9:14.89) carried the day. Ethiopia’s Abera Alemitu (9:15.61) Kenyan Beatrice Chepngeno (9:16.36) and Zemedkun Belqynesh (9:20.20) of Ethiopia followed in that order.
The East Africans also dominated the 3000m steeplechase with Kenyan Willy Komen (8 : 35.82) winning the event ahead of the Ethiopians Mesfin Nahom (8:40.01) and Sisay Iskyas (8:41.21).
The host’s Yassine Chaleb Mohammed gave Tunisia their first gold medal with a leap of 7.49m in the men’s Long Jump. While South Africa’s Marli Knoetze (46.44) prevailed in the women’s Discus Throw.
Mark Ouma for the IAAF
NOTE : Results from events completed
PB denotes personal best
NWR denotes no wind reading
1 Willy Komen (Kenya) 8 : 35.82
2 Mesfin Nahom (Ethiopia) 8 :40.01
3 Sisay Iskyas (Ethiopia) 8 :41.21
1 Yassine Chaleb Mohammed (Tunisia) 7.49 (NWR)
2 Bertrand Boissy Guy (Senegal) 7.04 (NWR)
3 Housseme Maalaoui (Tunisia) 6.95 (NWR)
1 Nawal El Jack (Sudan) 53.94
2 Fatou Soumah Ndeye (Senegal) 56.33
3 Jaber Moura (Sudan) (58.20)
1 Lydia Wafula (Kenya) 2 :02.84 PB
2 Moura Jaber (Sudan) 2:04.24
3 Girma Chaltu (Ethiopia) 2 :04.87
1 Mercy Wanjiru (Kenya) 9 :14.89
2 Abera Alemitu (Ethiopia) 9 :15. 61
3 Beatrice Chepngeno (Kenya) 9 :16.36
1 Marli Knoetze (South Africa) 46.44
2 Sara Hasseib (Egypt) 46.11
3 Ghada Ghezal (Tunisia) 37.48