Beautiful ending to a sorrowful start for Team Kenya in Tokyo – The Star, Kenya

Hassan, who is one of the leading candidates for the World Athlete of the Year in 2021, did a double over our very own, World 5000m champion Hellen Obiri, as she won double gold in 5000m and 10,000m. 

Emmanuel Korir pulled off a massive sprint in the last lap of the men’s 800m to clinch his first gold at the senior level. Similarly, world bronze medalist Ferguson Rotich seemed to be missing out on a podium finish until less than 100m to the finish line when he sprinted to grab silver. 

This moment of glory came just after Hyvin Kiyeng could only contend with a bronze medal after coming third in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech was held back by multiple injury woes, including tendon, hamstring, lower back and stomach discomfort and could only finish seventh in 9:16.33. 

Collectively, the country heaved a sigh of relief as Korir’s gold was the first  in Tokyo after double heartbreaks in the men’s 10,000m and 3000m steeplechase. 

While Kenya once again came up short in a race they are yet to win gold in 53 years, they were also dethroned from the throne as kings of the 3000m steeplechase for the first time in 53 years. 

In the 10,000m, the fastest Kenyan was Rodgers Kwemoi  who could only finish seventh in 27:50.06 as Ethiopian Selemon Barega clocked 27:43.22 to come away with gold. 

Despite the hopes prior to the games that the trio of Kwemoi, World Under 20 10,000m champion Rhonex Kipruto and Weldon Kipkirui would finally break the 53-year dry-spell, Naftali Temu still remains as the only Kenyan to win an Olympic gold in the men’s 10,000m. 

In the 3000m steeplechase, Benjamin Kigen and Abraham Kibiwott were no match for Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali who finally won gold at an international event after so many years of trying. 

Bakkali’s joy was Kenyans’ grief as the country was jolted into the rude reality that they are no longer the giants of the water-jump-and-hurdles race.  Kigen’s bronze after coming third in 8:11.45 was only but a consolation to the country. 

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