Brazzaville, CongoExpected victories for Hestrie Cloete (RSA), Frantz Kruger (RSA) and Yamile Aldama (SUD) in the infield, were upstaged by an impressive win from Kenya’s David Chemweno on the track on the opening day of the 14th African Athletics Championships at the Massamba Debat Stadium in Brazzaville, Congo on Wednesday (14 July), reports Mark Ouma.
Dominant Steeplechase win
Chemweno, 22, achieved his first major international victory when he won the men’s 3000m Steeplechase. A surge in speed with two laps to go until the finish enabled Chemweno to shake off a spirited challenge from his youthful compatriot Richard Matelong, Moroccans Abdellatif Chemlal and Hamid Ezzine, together with Emmanuel Mkhabela (South Africa).
Chemweno, who took the World Junior silver medal in 2000, had a winning time yesterday of 8:17.31. The 21 year old Matelong (8:26.34) outpaced Chemlal (8:31:01) to take the silver medal. While Ezzine (8:32.14), and the South Africans Reuben Ramolefi (8:50.95), Mkhabela (8:55.41) and Petrus Sithole (9:03:02) followed.
“This has been a fitting consolation after I failed to make the Kenya team for Athens. I hope my time will improve my prospects of getting into the major Grand Prix races,” said Chemweno who came second in the Seville Grand Prix (8:15.51) on 5 June and set his personal best of 8:13.12 at the Iráklio Super Grand Prix in Greece on 4 July.
Cloete retains title and equals championships record
South Africa took an early lead on the medal table with two victories in the field events. Double World Champion Hestrie Cloete retained her title and equalled the championship record in the women’s High Jump with a 1.95m effort. She had already shared the record since winning in 2002 with Lucienne N’Da of the Ivory Coast who also jumped that height in the 1992 championships.
Fellow South Africans Samantha Dodd (1:60) and Heptathlete Janice Josephs (1.50) were second and third.
Kruger – Championships record too
Olympic bronze medallist Frantz Kruger (63.85) established a championship record in the men’s Discus. Previously the record stood at 63.56m and was set in Cairo, Egypt in 1985 by Nigeria’s Christian Okoye. Hannes Hopley (63.50) and Moroccan Nabil Kirme (52.12) were placed second and third respectively.
A class women’s Triple Jump
Elsewhere, there was a high quality women’s triple Jump. The Cuban-born Yamile Aldama (14.90) put Sudan on the medal table with a win over Senegal’s Kene Ndoye (14.44) who was runner up. However, the Championship record of 14.95 set by Cameroon’s Francoise Mbango (14.95) in 2002 could not be approached.
While Burkina Faso’s Mariette Mien was third with a leap of 12.61, it was fourth placed Telma Cossa’s 11.85m which was particularly noteworthy. A beneficiary of the Maria Mutola Foundation, the young athlete set a new Mozambique national record.
Tactical women’s 5000m
Earlier on Ethiopia’s Etalemahu Kidane outpaced Prisca Jepleting (Kenya) on the home straight to win a slow but tactical women’s 5000m race. Etalemahu clocked 16:25.83 to Jepleting’s 16:26.15. Angele Haronsimana (Burundi) was a distant third in 19:55.99.
Colourful opening ceremony
The first day’s proceedings were capped with a colourful opening ceremony graced by the President of the Republic of Congo Dennis Sassou Nguesso. A display of Congolese cultural dance and music gripped the attention of all in the stadium for nearly three hours.
The competitions resume today, Thursday morning (15 July) with the women’s 20 kilometres race walk.
SELECTED RESULTS - Day One
OLY A denotes Olympic A qualifying standard
OLY B denotes Olympic B qualifying standard
NR denotes National Record
CR denotes Championships record.
PB denotes Personal Best
1 David Chemweno (Kenya) 8:17.31 OLY A
2 Richard Matelong (Kenya) 8:26.34 OLY B
3 Abdellatif Chemlal (Morocco) 8:31.01 OLY B
1 Frantz Kruger (South Africa) 63.85 OLY B /CR
2 Hannes Hopley (South Africa) 63.50 OLY B
3 Nabil Kirame (Morocco) 52.12
1 Etalemahu Kidane (Ethiopia) 16:25.83
2 Prisca Jepleting (Kenya) 16:26.15
3 Angele Haronsimana (Burundi) 19:55.99
1 Yamile Aldama (Sudan) 14:90 OLY A
2 Kene Ndoye (Senegal) 14.44 OLY A
3 Mariette Mien (Burkina Faso) 12.61
4 Teima Cossa (Mozambique) 11.85 NR
1 Hestrie Cloete (South Africa) 1.95 OLY A/CR (equal)
2 Samantha Dodd (South Africa) 1.60
3 Janice Josephs (South Africa) 1.50
MEDAL TABLE AS AT 14 JULY (END OF DAY ONE)
COUNTRY GOLD SILVER BRONZE
South Africa 2 2 1
Kenya 1 2 0
Ethiopia 1 0 0
Sudan 1 0 0
Senegal 0 1 0
Morocco 0 0 2
Burkina Faso 0 0 1
Burundi 0 0 1