Kiplang’at, Muthoni take Kenya to the top on Day Two of World U20s at Kasarani
Amos Abuga and Vincent Voiyoh
Benson Kiplang’at and Teresia Muthoni braved a rainy afternoon to bring home the first two gold medals in a spectacular fashion in the ongoing World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi yesterday.
Kiplang’at ensured Kenya defended the men’s 5,000m title last won by Edward Zakayo in Tampere, Finland, in 2018.
Japan-based Muthoni led compatriot Zena Jemutai to a 1-2 finish in the women’s 3,000m final, Kenya’s first gold medal in the event for the first time since 2012.
With the two gold medals, one silver and a bronze, Kenya, the defending champions, moved to the helm of the standings going to the third day of the championships today.
Yesterday afternoon’s programmes were delayed due to a huge downpour at the Kasarani stadium.
Kenya has had to endure a decade of gold drought in the women’s 3,000m final with Mercy Chepwogen the last winner during the 2012 edition of the Championships held in Barcelona, finishing ahead of Ethiopia’s Hiwot Geebrekidan.
Muthoni clocked 8:57.78 ahead of Jemutai( 8:59.59) and Ethiopia’s Melknat Wudu who won bronze in 9:00.12.
Meanwhile, Kiplang’at, 18, put up a good show setting a personal best of 13:20:37 after touching the finish line ahead of favourite Tedesa Wrku of Ethiopia who bagged silver.
Pre-race gold medal hopeful Levi Kibet who won the national trials at the same venue last July was third,.
Kiplang’at began the race shoulder to shoulder with Warku who posed a big threat for Kenya’s podium finish.
However, going to the last lap it was a Kenya-Ethiopia affair again with the home nation under monumental pressure for a first medal.
“I am so happy for the win. It means a lot to me and to my country. Though it was tough with the Ethiopians at our back, we managed to get gold and bronze,” Kiplang’at said after the race.
The duo is looking to conquer the world as he graduates to senior events.
In the women’s 3,000m, Muthoni said there was no way she was going to let visitors win.
“As the home team we had to win at all costs. What more can we do than reward our fans for their unending love and support,” said Muthoni, who arrived back in the country in June for the trials upon graduating at Serra High School in Japan.
Muthoni who hails from Kinangop, Nyandarua County, says she will be graduating to the seniors happy to have won a junior gold medal.
On her part, Jemutai, the only athlete in Team Kenya from Tampere, was happy to upgrade having finished fifth in that edition.
“Teamwork did all the magic today. I am happy that unlike back then when I was the only one in the final, today I had Muthoni. It is special for me and Team Kenya,” said Jemutai.