12 September 2016

Kenya: Kirwa Takes 1,500m Bronze in Paralympics

Photo: Chris Omollo/Daily Nation
Paralympics team's Henry Kirwa (right) with Abraham Tarbei (centre) in action during a past training session.

Henry Kirwa won bronze in the T13 men's 1,500m final Monday dawn at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro to stretch Kenya's medal tally to three in the Rio Paralympics Games.

Samuel Muchai and Wilson Bii had opened Kenya's medal haul winning gold and bronze respectively in the 5,000m final in day one of action but with three medals under her belt, Kenya sits at a dismal position 42 out of the ranked 70 nations that have so far claimed medals.

Kirwa who had set his eyes on reclaiming the title he won in Beijing, China, in 2008, however found the going tough and could only earn a third place finish behind winner, Algerian Baka Abdelatif, who claimed gold in 3 minutes, 48.29 seconds to set a new world record.

Ethiopian Demisse Tamiru bagged silver in 3 minutes, 48.49 sec, which is his personal best. Another Algerian, Baka Fouda finished fourth behind Kirwa on 3 minutes, 49.84 seconds to also set his personal best.

LONG-STANDING RECORDHowever, the day belonged to gold medallist Baka, who not only ran a quick paced race full of energy and swagger, but also crashed the long standing record of Kenyan David Korir of 3 minutes, 48.84 seconds set in 2012, in London.

So poignant was the win for Baka that he took close to five minutes after the race in celebrations with pockets of his compatriots in the terraces draped in the Algerian flag.

The contest begun strongly and after covering two stretches, the fight became intense with each athlete breathing hard down the neck of each other.

Kirwa, at one time showed signs of bagging silver after Baka had clearly made a break from the pack but Demisse of Ethiopia engaged him in cut-throat competition in the final 200m finishing ahead of him.

And on a day that Korir's record came tumbling, Kirwa also drew satisfaction that he ran 0.75 faster than the world record which Korir set in 2012.This was also Kirwa's personal best.

At the same time, Muchai and Bii take to the track Tuesday dawn with each training their eyes on gold in the 1,500m final.

Much hope is pegged on the duo after they opened Kenya's meal haul at the Games but they face a stern test from homeboy Odiar Santos.


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