Bambous, Mauritius Victories by Paul Kipsiele Koech, Jeruto Kiptum and Alex Kipchirchir made Kenya the most successful team at the Africa Championhips at the Germain Commarmond Stadium in Bambous, Mauritius on Friday (11).
From the starter's gun Kipsele Koech took the lead ahead of Olympic champions Ezekiel Kemboi and Abraham Cherono in the men's 3000m Steeplechase. He surged midway through the race opening a huge gap. Koech's winning time of 8:11.03 improved on the previous championships record of fellow Kenyan Bernard Barmasai set in Dakar, Senegal in 1998.
The brave fight put up by Moroccans Abdelkader Hachlaf and Brahim Taleb prevented a Kenyan sweep of the medals with Kemboi being disqualified, Hachlaf (8:33.52) finishing second while the fast-finishing South African Reuben Ramolefi (8:39.67) edged Taleb for the bronze medal.
"I am a front runner. So I did not want (Olympic champion Ezekiel) Kemboi to get ahead of me. After 1000m I noticed he was finding it hard to keep up with me so I decided to run my own race. I plan to win the race at the World championships," says a delighted Koech.
Earlier Jeruto Kiptum set the tone for the Kenya victories in the women's 3000m steeplechase. Tunisian Habiba Ghribi and Morocco's Chaabi Bouchra kept close contact with Kiptum in the first half of the race. However with less that 800m to the finish Kiptum made her move and went on to comfortably win the event in 10:00.02. Ghribi (10:10:93) was second ahead of Bouchra (11:11.52).
"My main rivals (Uganda's Dorcus) Inzikuru did not turn up so I knew I would have a comfortable race. I surged with 1000m left to make sure I was not surprised by any fast finisher," says Kiptum.
Perhaps the most dramatic finish of the day was in the men's 800m. Kenya Alex Kipchirchir looked set to win the race from teammate Alfred Kirwa. When Sudan's Ismail Ahmed Ismail overtook South Africa's Mbulaneni Mulaudzi on the home straight, fans where on their feet cheering as the Sudanese challenged the Kenyans.
Only after several replays of the photo finish was it determined that Kipchirchir (1:46.62) carried the day with Ismail (1:46.65) second and Kirwa (1:46.85) third.
"What a race. Even though Ismail made a spirited challenge in the last ten metres of the race, I felt confident that I had done enough to claim victory. A challenge," says Kipchirchir who normally normally runs 1500.
Meanwhile sprinter Gary Kikaya made history when he won the 400m in 45.03. He is the first athlete from the Democratic Republic of Congo to win a medal at the Africa Championships.
"I did this for the people of Congo. They have supported me all along. My hope is this will encourage the youth to take advantage of the unfolding peace in our country to take up athletics," says Kikaya.
Algeria's Sydney Olympic champion Nouria Benida (1500m) and Senegal's 2001 World champion Amy Mbacke Thiam (400m) proved that they are on the comeback trail by winning their respective events. South Africa won two gold medals through Elizna Naude (discus) and Rene van der Merwe (High Jump).
The day ended on an exciting note as Ghana's women's 4x100m edged perennial power Nigeria at the finish line. Similarly the Nigerian men's team pipped South Africa at the finish.
The talk of the day is the situation on the medal table where five countries, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Egypt are tied on three gold medals each.
Mark Ouma for the IAAF
Click here for FULL RESULTS
SELECTED LEADING RESULTS -
CR Championships record
NR denotes National Record
PB denotes Personal Best
1 Olusoji Fasuba (Nigeria) 10.37
2 Uchenna Emedolu (Nigeria) 10.44
3 Eric Nkansah (Ghana) 10.65
1. Gary Kikaya (Demo. Rep. of Congo) 45.03
2. Paul Gorris (South Africa) 45.50
3. Young Talkmore Nyongani (Zimbabwe) 45.60
1. Louis van Zyl (South Africa) 49.43
2. Alwyn Myburgh (South Africa) 49.88
3. Leonel Kurt Couto (Mozambique) 50.72
1. Alex Kipchirchir (Kenya) 1:46.62
2. Ismail Ahmed Ismail (Sudan) 1:46.65
3. Alfred Kirwa( Kenya) 1:46.85
1. Paul Kipsiele Koech (Kenya) 8:11.74 (CR)
2. Abdelkader Hachlaf (Morocco) 8:33.52
3. Ruben Ramolefi (South Africa) 8:39.67
1. Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) 14:03.41
2. Mike Kigen (Kenya) 14:05.12
3. Moses Kipsiro (Uganda) 14:05.20
1. Ignisious Gaisah (Ghana) 8.51 (+3.7)
2. Khotso Mokoena (South Africa) 8.45 (+4.2)
3. Issam Nima (Algeria) 8.22 (+2.4)
4. Gable Garenamotse (Botswana) 8.02 (3.1)
1. Omar Ahmed ElGazaly (Egypt) 61.11
2. Ibrahim Yassar (Egypt) 54.38
3. Nabil Kiram (Morocco) 53.41
1. Ibrahim Yassar (Egypt) 18.93
2. Janus Robberts (South Africa) 17.88
3. Mohammed Medded (Tunisia) 17.87
1. Hamdi Dhouidi (Tunisia) 7,566 points
2. Mourad souissi (Algeria) 7,113 points
3. Terence Wepener (South Africa) 7,084 points
1. Nigeria 39.63
2. South Africa 39.68
3. Ghana 40.12
1. Vida Anim (Ghana) 11.58
2. Geraldine Pillay (South Africa) 11.67
3. Endurance Ojokolo (Nigeria) 11.95
1. Amy Mbacke Thiem (Senegal) 52.22
2. Amantle Montsho (Botswana) 52.68
3. Louise Ayetotche (Cote d'Ivoire) 52.92
100m Hurdles (-1.4)
1. Toyin Augustus (Nigeria) 13.44
2. Carole Me-ban kaboud (Cameroon) 13.85
3. Gnima Faye (Senegal) 13.95
1. Nouria Merah Benida (Algeria) 4:23.26
2. Safa Issaoui (Tunisia) 4:24.08
3. Berhane Hirphsa (Ethiopia)4:24.09
1. Jeruto Kiptum (Kenya) 10:00.02
2. Habiba Ghribi (Tunisia) 10:10.93
3. Chaabi Bouchra (Morocco) 10:11.52
1. Meseret Defar (Ethiopia) 15:56.00
2. Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) 15:56.04
3. Jebiwot Kibet (Kenya) 15:57.14
1. Josephine Bike Mbarga (Cameroon) 6.33 (+2.9)
2. Kene Ndoye (Senegal) 6.30 (+1.8)
3. Chinazom Amadi (Nigeria) 6.23 (+3.0)
1. Rene van der Merwe (South Africa) 1.84
2. Nneka Ukuh (Nigeria) 1.80
3. Sara Bouaoudia (Algeria) 1.75
1. Syrine Balti (Tunisia) 4.21
2. Dinar Nisrine (Morocco) 3.60
3. Lindi Roux (South Africa) 3.60
1. Elizna Naude (South Africa) 55.42
2. Vivian Chukwuemeka (Nigeria) 49.63
3. Duzanne Kragbe (Cote d'Ivoire) 49.05
1. Marwa Hussein Arafat (Egypt) 62.16
2. Hayat Elghazi (Morocco) 59.33
3. Blessing Egwu (Nigeria) 51.77
1. Ghana 44.43
2. Nigeria 44.52
3. Cameroon 46.43