Saturday, August 20, 2022

Kenya

Commonwealth Games: Omanyala leads Kenya’s final push for gold

In Birmingham

Kenya’s hopes for a fairy-tale end to this year’s Commonwealth Games as the athletics program draws to a close Sunday at the Alexander Stadium here in Birmingham, England.

Kenyan athletes will be contesting in eight finals where the country will be putting at least two titles on the cutting edge, men’s 800m and women’s 5,000m.

After Saturday’s morning’s session, Kenya had collected 13 medals; three gold, four silver and six bronze. One of the bronze medals is from women’s para powerlifting.

Defending champion Wycliffe Kinyamal will be under immense pressure to retain his 800m title as he comes up against a strong field in the race that will start at 9.35pm.

Wyclife Kinyamal

England’s Ben Pattison (right) crosses the finish line in first place followed by Kenya’s Wyclife Kinyamal (centre) and Ghana’s Alex Amankwa (left) during the third heat of the men’s 800m Round 1 athletics event at the Alexander Stadium, in Birmingham on day six of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, central England, on August 3, 2022. 

Photo credit: Andy Buchanan | AFP

World 5,000m silver medallist Beatrice Chebet and Selah Jepleting hope to defend the 5,000m title Hellen Obiri won in 2018 Gold Coast. Kenya has won the crown in the last four editions.

The women’s 5,000m final goes down at 9.45pm.

The 2018 Continental Cup 1,500m champion Winny Chebet and youngster Edinah Jebitok taking the battle to home athlete World 1,500m bronze medallist, Laura Muir in women’s 1,500m. The race starts at 9.20pm.

Olympic and world 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich won the title last for Kenya at the 2014 Glasgow Games.

The country will also be eager to recapture titles in men’s javelin throw, women’s 1,500m and 4x400m relay with a possibility of winning men’s 10,000m race walk and men’s 4x100m.

Julius Yego

Julius Yego of Kenya competes in the Men’s Javelin qualification on day seven of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 21, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon.

Photo credit: Patrick Smith | AFP

The focus will be on overall Team Kenya captain Julius Yego as he takes to the runway with the historic moments from the 2014 Glasgow flooding his memories.

Yego, the 2015 World javelin champion, who is fresh from winning his fourth Africa title, made history as the first Kenya to win the javelin title at the “Club Games” and the only African to achieve the feat after South Africa’s Marius Corbett in 1998 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Yego will partner with the 2020 Kip Keino Classic champion Alexander Kiprotich in the event that will go down at 9.40pm.

Yego is up against Anderson Peters from Grenada, who are fresh from sealing back-to-back victories at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon. Peters, who won bronze in 2018 Gold Coast has season’s best 93.07 metres.

Also in the mix is the 2012 London Olympics champion Keshorn Walcott from Trinidad and Tobago, who has season’s best 89.07m.

World Cup race walk bronze medallist Samuel Gathimba is one of the favourites in the men’s 10,000m race walk.

Samuel Gathimba

Samuel Kireri Gathimba of Team Kenya on day one of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 15, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon.

Photo credit: Steph Chambers | AFP

Gathimba, who sealed his third consecutive men’s title at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships on June 12 in Mauritius, made his third appearance at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon where he finished fourth, having settled 30th in 2017 London and 33rd in 2019 Doha.

Gathimba made history as the first Kenyan to win a medal at senior level in a world event at the World Race Walking Team Championships in Muscat, Oman on March 5 this year.

Gathimba glided to season’s best One hour, 23 minutes and 53 seconds to finish third and claim bronze in the men’s 20km on his debut at the world team event.

Ethiopia's Gudaf Tesgay

Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay reacts after crossing the finish line to win the women’s 5000m final during the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon on July 23, 2022.

Photo credit: Jewel Samad | AFP

All eyes will be on Chebet, the Africa 5,000m champion, who continued to cement her position in senior ranks with a silver medal performance in women’s 5,000m in Oregon.

The 2018 World Under-20 5,000m and 2019 World Cross Country Under-20 champion has declared her intentions for the Commonwealth Games title. “I just pray that I wake up well. I picked up good lessons in Oregon and I feel mature enough and ready to take this title,” said Chebet, who will partner with the national trials winner Selah Jepleting, who is making a return.

“It will be a highly technical race with Muir as favourite. I plan to stay with her until the last lap. I can only pray to wake up well despite the pressure,” said Winny, who retained her Africa 1,500m title in Mauritius in June.

It’s 32 years since Kenya’s fourth victory in 4x400m at the Commonwealth Games. The onus is on Boniface Mweresa, Wiseman Were, William Mbevi and William Rayan to reclaim that hour.

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