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Kenyans dominate inaugural Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi4 minutes read

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Kenyans had plenty to cheer as world champions Timothy Cheruiyot, Hellen Obiri and Beatrice Chepkoech were triumphant at the Kip Keino Classic World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting on Saturday 3 October as Nairobi hosted its first-ever global one-day meet at the newly-refurbished Nyayo National Stadium.

Despite struggling with a hamstring strain, Cheruiyot maintained his 1500m winning streak and held off a strong challenge from young compatriot Kumari Taki. Cheruiyot’s experience proved vital as he guarded his lead to win in 3:34.53. Taki, the 2016 world U20 champion, was second in 3:35.00 – just 0.86 shy of his PB. Abel Kipsang was third in 3:35.43.

“It was tough because before the race, I had a small hamstring strain and I wasn’t sure I would do well,” said Cheruiyot, who was cheered on by a sizeable crowd at the Nyayo National Stadium. “But I managed to hold it for a while to run and win. The field was very competitive and I had to do my best.”

Obiri, meanwhile, used her imperious finishing kick to win the 5000m ahead of world 10,000m bronze medallist Agnes Tirop. Obiri kicked hard in the final 300m and went on to win in 15:06.36, crossing the finish line with a smile as she wrapped up a successful 2020 track campaign that included world-leading performances over 3000m and 5000m. Tirop finished second in 15:06.71.

“I really wanted to give the home fans something to smile about and I am happy with the race today,” said Obiri. “I just wanted to finish the season well with a win and now I can look at what’s ahead and plan for next season.”

World record-holder Chepkoech brought the curtains down on the hugely successful event, leading from the outset to win the steeplechase in 9:29.05.

“It was a very good race and I am pleased to win at home,” she said. “I wanted to run below 9:10 but unfortunately it was not possible because of the conditions. But all the same I am happy with the performance and the victory.”

Only Hyvin Kiyeng, the 2015 world champion, tried to keep up with Chepkoech’s pace – which, given Nairobi’s altitude, was pretty swift. Kiyeng finished second in 9:34.07 while Roseline Chepngetich was third in 9:46.14.

In contrast to the women’s race, the men’s steeplechase was extremely close with Commonwealth silver medallist Abraham Kibiwot just getting the better of Leonard Bett with a lunge at the finish line.

Kibiwot ran behind Bett throughout the race, but he used his momentum off the final barrier to great effect to kick to victory in 8:17.60, finishing 0.03 ahead of Bett, the 2017 world U18 champion and 2019 African U20 champion.

“I honestly didn’t think I would win today because this was my first competition of the season,” said Kibiwot, who finished seventh at last year’s World Championships. “It has been very tough training during the Covid-19 pandemic period and I just wanted to come here and try to get a good performance. I managed a win and I am so happy with myself.”

Elsewhere in a programme that was unsurprisingly packed with endurance events, Olympic silver medallist Paul Tanui won the men’s 10,000m by 16 seconds in 28:06.90 after kicking away from the rest of the field with 800 metres to go. Lemlem Hailu won the women’s 1500m in 4:06.42, holding off a strong challenge from Kenyan duo Winny Chebet (4:06.78) and Mercy Cherono (4:06.79).

One of the most surprising performances of the day came in the women’s 400m.

Namibian 17-year-old Beatrice Masilingi produced a strong final run down the home straight to win in an African U18 best of 50.99 – the fastest time in the world by an U18 athlete for 18 years. Kenya’s Mary Moraa was second in 51.99.

South Africa’s Dambile Sinesipho, the African U18 champion, won the men’s 200m in 20.44 (1.2m/s) ahead of Ivorian Arthur Cisse, who clocked 20.53. Denmark’s Tazana Kamanga-Dyrbak, another promising talent, finished third in 20.61 to break his own national U20 record.

Britain’s 2018 world U20 bronze medallist Kristal Awuah set a PB of 23.05 (-0.7m/s) to win the women’s 200m, holding off Egypt’s Bassant Hemida (23.13) and Zambia’s Rhodah Njobvu (23.18).

“I am so delighted because my main target was to run a PB and I achieved it,” said 21-year-old Awuah. “It was tough, though, because the altitude was really punishing and that’s why I’m still gasping for breath. But it is an honour to come to Kenya and win.”

Elsewhere, Venezuela’s Rosa Rodriguez produced the farthest ever hammer throw on Kenyan soil, winning the women’s event with 69.55m. Italian veteran Marco Lingua took the men’s event with 70.20m.

In the absence of 2015 world champion Julius Yego, his protege Alexander Kiprotich won the javelin with a best throw of 76.71m.

“Being the first one to win this inaugural event is historic and I hope to defend the title in May next year as I aim to qualify for Tokyo Olympics,” said Kiprotich. “What we lack in Kenya is exposure to quality competition that can improve our techniques. We need to venture out.”

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga led dignitaries at the meeting with 1500m winner Cheruiyot named the meet’s best athlete.

East Africa Sports News

Gor Mahia captain confident ahead of new season

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Captain of Kenyan Premier League (KPL) side Gor Mahia, Kenneth Muguna says his side is not worried about the 2020/2021 season as they are targeting maximum points in all their matches.

Muguna says the team is only focusing on being ready for the new season and not the league fixtures.

“We are not concentrating so much on the fixtures, we are not worried about it at all,” Muguna said.

“We are focused on being ready before the league resumes because I know once we are physically and mentally ready, we can tackle any team on earth.

“We are going to try and win all our matches because we know by doing so, we stand a chance of winning trophies at the end of the season.”

K’Ogalo recently appointed a new Brazilian coach Roberto Oliveira and added some new players to the team.

“The team is fine so far, we are creating a bond that will make us operate together as a team – the aim is, to find a working formula,” Muguna added.

Also, new Gor Mahia signing, Bernard Ondiek says the fans should wait for the start of the new league season with optimism.

“We are geared for the season start and we have new players who are really gelling well as expected. Gor Mahia always get good players and for the fans, I want you to expect much [more] from us than we gave last season,” he said.

“For now, I can say all the focus is on the Champions League, and obviously we have been there and we know what to do. Since we have some experiences in the Champions League, we are now well prepared to tackle it more than the other seasons.

“All we are going for is the Champions League as it is a nice experience for every player in this team. But again, if you do not prepare well, it will be hard to make it.

“All I can say is the fans should be geared for it and I am very happy and confident because we will do good in the Champions League.”

Gor Mahia are set to start off their new season with a fixture against 11-time KPL champions Tusker FC, and later face Ulinzi Stars, Mathare United, Sofapaka FC, and newly promoted Bidco United.

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East Africa Sports News

Kenyan President Flags Off Construction Of World Class Sports Complex in Kisumu

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has officially launched the construction of the Sh415 million Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu.

Kenyatta assured the youth his government will come good on their campaign promise to improve sporting infrastructure across the nation.

The President said he is determined to have stadiums built in all the regions to help young talents across the country realize their full potential.

Accompanied by opposition leader Raila Odinga, Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, Kenyatta further assured that the renovations will be complete in six months.

“I am here with my brother Raila (Odinga) to lay the foundation stone. The contractor has assured me that the venue will be ready in April (next year). So we will come back to open it with a football match involving Gor Mahia and our brothers from Ingoo (AFC Leopards). I am asking Lusaka to go and prepare his team,” said Kenyatta, amid cheers from the crowd.

“It is my wish to see the youth playing internationally for teams like Liverpool and Manchester. We are building these international facilities and you should also work hard to ensure that happens,” said Uhuru.

“We had planned to build this stadium at the Jomo Kenyatta sports ground but were informed the venue is not adequate. So we have shifted the project here. We have talked to your governor and he has agreed to support this project,” he added.

After its completion, the venue will be able to host 30,000 spectators join the Moi Stadium in Kisumu as a ground capable of hosting international and Kenyan Premier League matches.

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East Africa Sports News

FKF Re-Appoint Jacob “Ghost” Mulee As Harambee Stars Coach

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Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has announced that it has re-appointed Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee as Kenya’s national team coach. Mulee who returns after a 10-year absence has been handed a three-year deal and he replaces Francis Kimanzi who parted ways with the team on Tuesday.

The tactician was officially unveiled on Wednesday 21 October and has been charged with the task of leading Kenya’s Harambee Stars back to the Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to be hosted by Cameroon in 2022 as well as giving a strong shot at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers set to start in June next year.

“He is Kenyan and knows Kenyan football,” newly re-elected FKF President Nick Mwendwa said. “He has been there, done that. He has been to the Africa Cup of Nations before and now he has another chance to be there and use that knowledge to try and do better.”

The 52-year-old Mulee had four previous spells as Harambee Stars coach. The highlight of his career was leading Kenya to the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia. He also led them to various CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup triumphs.

Nicknamed “Ghost”, he also coached Tusker FC with whom he won three league titles, as well as Rwanda’s APR and Tanzania’s Young Africans.

“First of all, I want to thank the federation for again having faith that I can steer the team to the Afcon and World Cup,” he said. “We had a very lengthy discussion as to what the ambition of the federation is after the election and after seeing the working conditions are favourable, I said that I can give it a try.

“I know it is a good thing to handle a national team but at the same time a difficult task because we have two tough games coming up against Comoros, they are two very important games for Kenya, however, I believe that with the team that I saw against Zambia, the team that has played the first two qualifiers, there is a big possibility that we have a squad to take us to the Afcon.

“My focus now is on how to deal with Comoros, I know it is a difficult match but I think if we can manage to win the first game at home, then we will be good to go.”

His first task will be to assemble a team for the qualifiers in less than two weeks. Kenya will face Comoros on 11 November in Nairobi before traveling for the return tie four days later in Moroni.

Mulee also believes he can do well in the World Cup qualifiers, with Kenya set to battle Mali as well as neighbors Rwanda and Uganda for a chance to move to the second and final phase of qualification.

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