News16 May 2011

Records tumble as African Junior Champs conclude in Gaborone


Gaborone 2011 logo (© Organisers)

The 10th African Junior Championships concluded on Sunday at the UB Stadium in Gaborone, Botswana. South Africa emerged with most medals from the competition, 34 total with 13 gold, 13 silver and eight bronze medal. This was twice as many medals as Ethiopia in second place with 17 medals and six gold. The competition was highlighted by a string of great middle and long distance running results with competition records not just bettered but crushed in many events.

While most of the athletes competing in Gaborone this weekend are too old to compete at this year's IAAF World Youth Championships, Lille, France, 6-10 July, some talented youth athletes are expected to emerge.

In the men’s 5000m race Ethiopia was finally able to prevent a Kenyan 1-2 in this event with Yitayal Atnafu Zerihun grabbing a win in 13:38.52, a personal best. Zerihun stepped up from an eighth place finish the World Cross Country Championships junior race earlier this season. Kenya’s Abraham Kasongor was a close second also recording 13:39.17, also a PB, while Ugandan Thomas Ayeko won his second bronze in this competition with a 13:40.04 personal best. He was third in the 10,000m as well.

In the women’s 3000m steeplechase Ethiopian Birtukan Adamu was a clear winner with a 9:53.80 season’s best. Adamu won a silver medal at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Moncton. Countrywoman Zewdnesh Belachew was second in 10:02.99 PB and Kenyan Veronica Ngososei third in 10:06.52 season’s best.

In other events Sudan grabbed a win in the men’s 4x400m relay in 3:09.77 with South Africa winning the women’s event clocking 3:38.16. Annet Negesa of Uganda became a double winner adding the 1500m in 4:09.17 – a Ugandan record for seniors and juniors – to the 800m title she won on Friday. Last’s year bronze medallist from the World Junior Championships, Kenyan Nancy Chepkwemoi was a really close second clocking a 4:09.25 personal best. Ethiopian took another gold in the men’s 800m where Mohamed Aman retained his African junior title from 2009 in a season’s best 1:46.62.

South Africa took the titles in both 200m finals. Sonya Van Der Merwe won the women’s race in 23.78 before Fantu Magiso Manedo, who set Ethiopian senior and junior records in 23.90 for the silver medal. Siphelo Nqgabaza was fastest in the men’s event in 20.94 with Zimbabwe’s Tinashe Mutanga second in 20.99. In the women’s 5000m Race Qalk Ethiopian Eshetu Shefrawe Aynalem won in 22:59.19, an African record for seniors and juniors.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF

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