Kenya: More to Come From AK Track and Field Weekend Meets


As one who professes the Christian faith, I believe when one door closes another one opens.

Last week brought with it mixed feelings for the athletics fraternity in the country.

On Wednesday, we were heartbroken after Togolese authorities requested the Confederation of African Athletics to postpone the Africa Cross Country Championships slated for March 7 in Lome.

It was more heartbreaking for the 42 athletes who have been training at Kigari Teachers' Training College, Embu in readiness for the continental showpiece.

Indeed, for the likes of Rodgers Kwemoi, Kibiwott Kandie and Hellen Obiri, it must be double heartbreak after the cancellation of the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in early February in which they had registered to participate.

However, come Saturday, it was all smiles again as athletes from all corners of the country gathered at Nyayo Stadium for the 1st Athletics Kenya Track and Field Weekend meeting.

This event almost never happened after Bondo -- the initial venue -- was unable to host it.

Fortunately, quick action by AK to shift the championships to Nairobi ensured that athletes' hunger for competition was gratified.

Indeed, the hunger was apparent in the intense competition witnessed in the various race categories, the scorching Nairobi sun notwithstanding.

The standout race for me was the three-way battle between Kwemoi, fast-rising youngster Gideon Rono and Daniel Simiu in the 5,000m.

Rono upset the form book to finish first, ahead of the two seasoned runners, which should fill Kenyans with hope of a bright future for the country in this race category.

Not one to throw in the towel easily, Kwemoi has vowed to come back stronger in the subsequent legs of the weekend meetings.

It is statements like these that convince me the competition in the first leg was just a tip of the iceberg. I was also impressed with Wycliffe Kinyamal's performance in the 400m -- which is not his specialty.

He comfortably won his heat and then finished third in the final; there must surely be more to come from the Commonwealth 800m gold medallist.

Sheila Chelangat also continued her rich vein of form, emerging tops in the 5,000m whereas Daisy Cherotich overcame the blazing hot conditions to build an insurmountable lead in the 10,000m, which she held to the end.

Sitting in the stadium, I must confess I was tempted to strip off my business suit, put on a pair of spikes, running gear and join the athletes on the track.

Such was the performance on offer that I couldn't help but feel nostalgic about my running days.

I, as is the case with millions of other athletics fans, cannot wait for the second and third legs of the weekend meets, both slated for Nairobi.

I believe all of us are in for a treat as athletes go back to training in preparation for better performances the next time round.

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