Kenya chase for first gold at African Games as athletics begins
Gilbert Kiprotich in Rabat, Morocco
A week has elapsed since the 12th edition of Africans Games officially begun here in Rabat, Morocco with Kenya yet to bag a gold medal at the continental championships.
Kenya has so far accumulated five medals – two silvers and three bronze.
The women beach volleyball team and Faith Ogallo (Taekwondo) have claimed the silver medals while Nancy Akinyi (Mountain Cycling), Everlyne Aluoch (Taekwondo) and the women’s 4x100m medley relay swimming team are the winners of bronze.
However, Kenya will follow keenly the developments in Rabat when the track and field events begin at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium later today.
Kenya will be banking on its athlete to deliver gold which has so far seemed elusive.
Olympic Games and World 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto will lead his compatriots Benjamin Kigen and Joash Kiplimo in the finals slated for today 8.04pm Kenyan time.
Kipruto and Kigen, both of whom participated at the Paris Diamond League on Saturday will have a short time to recover before they hit the track.
It was the first Diamond League series for Kipruto’s this season as he has been battling with recurring injuries for the better part of the season with his last competitive action being at this year’s World Cross Country Championships where he won a bronze in the mixed relay.
Although he finished fifth on Saturday, Kipruto said he is not yet back to his best.
“Although I have recovered in terms of injury, I am still not at my best levels since I have also been battling malaria lately but I had to compete in Paris to seek points for the finals,” said Kipruto.
The African champion will once again have to battle with his nemesis Soufiane Elbakkali of Morocco who reigned supreme in Paris and will also be buoyed by home support.
“I may not be 100 percent fit but I am ready to battle with them anyway. I have never feared a battle,” added Kipruto.
While Kipruto finished fifth in Paris, Kigen came home second and will provide the much needed anchorage to Kipruto and Kiplimo as Kenyans seek to sweep the podium.
Apart from El Bakkali, Kenyans will also have to deal with the threat posed by Ethiopian trio of Takele Melese, Tesfaye Ketema and Getnet Bayabl.
Also in contention are Uganda’s Albert Chemutai and Boniface Sikowo.
Later, former World Cross Country bronze medalist Lilian Kasait and World Under 18, 800m silver medalist Lydia Jeruto will carry Kenya’s hopes in the women’s 5000m finals scheduled for 9.10pm Kenyan time.
It will however not be a walk in the park for Kenyans as they will have to battle against Commonwealth Games 10000m champion Stella Chesang of Uganda and her compatriot Sarah Chelangat.
Kenya’s eternal foes in Ethiopia will line up Hawi Gejia, Alemitu Olana and Fantu Taye.
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