Gladys Cherono won her second African gold clocking 32:41.40 and leading a Kenyan sweep of medals in the women’s 10,000m on the penultimate day on Saturday (30).
This was only the fifth distance double gold and the first over 5000 and 10,000m, in the 18 editions of the African championships.
Double success for late entrant Cherono
After her 5000m win on Thursday, Cherono returned to the Charles de Gaulle track looking to boost her teammates Priscah Jepleting, the World bronze medallist from 2007, and Betsy Saina’s chances of winning the gold against the Ethiopian trio of Merima Mohammed, Demisse Mihret and Afera Berha, the latter fifth at the Africa Cross Country.
Jepleting, a three-times World championships and World Cross Country finalist, led the pack comprising Kenyan and Ethiopian runners as they crossed the half way mark in a slow 16:31.40.
The Ethiopians soon fell off the pace leaving the Kenyan trio firmly in control, with Mohammed about 80 metres behind.
They stuck together until the last lap (1:18.57) when Jepleting surged forward at the bell.
Saina, a Kenyan student based in Iowa, looking for career breakthrough briefly braved with about 150 metres to go, before Cherono strongly sprinted to win only her second 10,000m race.
Jepleting, who raced in both the 5000 and 10,000m at the Kenyan Olympics trials, settled for silver, her first African medal in 32:45.73, as Saina completed the sweep in 32:48.36.
"I never imagined I can win two gold medals here. My decision to double was just to boost the team and gauge myself in the 10k," said Cherono, whose debut 10,000m race was at the Kenya Defence championships (35:26) last month.
Though just a qualifying race, the women’s 800m second heat thrilled the crowds as teenager Francine Niyonsaba, returned 2:02:13, a PB, after a gun to tape, lane two lead!
She was clearly taken aback when Kenya’s Eunice Sum tried to overtake from the inside lane in the home stretch. She swiftly changed lanes almost knocking off a bemused Sum who retreated back to qualify second 2:02.16.
"Lane?" She posed naively when journalists sought to know her surprise choice of lane two for the two-lap race.
"I didn’t that’s where people run. It was comfortable for me so I ran there. I had only ran once before in a competition in Kampala that was my qualifying race (2:02.29), "added the 16-year old.
South Africa wins another sprint gold
South Africa’s Lehann Fourie (13.60) had a good run in the 110m hurdles despite a slow start, winning South Africa’s third sprint gold at the championships after the men’s 100m and 4 X100m Relay wins.
Fourie’s unmatched pace relegated Selin Nurudeen of Nigeria to silver in 13.68 and Algerian Lyes Mokdel to bronze in 13:73.
Ivorian Ben Meite Youssef , the 100m champion in Nairobi, had the best qualifying time of 20.61 in the 200m. Youssef false started in the 100m heats.
Simpson nabs women’s Javelin title
Margaret Simpson earned Ghana her first gold of the championships with her final round Javelin Throw effort of 54.62m.
South African Chris Harmse regained his African Hammer throw title with a fifth round throw of 77.22m which was just short of his 2008 Championship record of 77.20.
Nigerian Oke Tosin retained the men’s Triple Jump title with a fifth round leap of 16.98m.
Morocco’s Mouhsin Cheaouri and Samir El Mafhoum won gold and silver in the Pole Vault after clearing 5.10m and 5.00m respectively.