Kenya makes history, reigns supreme at Beijing World Championships
Updated: 2015-08-31 09:55
NAIROBI - Kenya wrote history as the best country in track and field when it ruled roost as the curtains came down on the 15th edition of the World Championships at the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing on Sunday.
First placed Asbel Kiprop of Kenya (L) shakes hands with compatriots second placed Elijah Motonei Manangoi (R) and Timothy Cheruiyothe after the men's 1500 metres final during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China, August 30, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
Kenya took the top podium spot as the best athletics country scooping 16 medals -- seven gold, six silver and three bronze. Jamaica was second with 12 medals -- seven gold, two silver and three bronze, while the United States who settled for third place with 18 medals -- six gold, six silver and six bronze.
And there was all sense of good will in the country as fans and citizens congratulated Team Kenya for a wonderful show, which also saw it diversify from its traditional middle and long distance races to reign supreme over the sprints and field events.
President Uhuru Kenyatta was the first to congratulate Kenyan athletes for their sterling performance.
Kenyatta said the athletes have proved to the world that they have the talent, discipline, determination, teamwork and vision to successfully compete at the highest level.
"Our young people have once again shown that they are as good as the world's best and brightest," he said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
He emphasized that his government's focus on youth empowerment is going to unleash the country's tremendous potential for rapid transformation and enable Kenya to take on the global big league.
"Our commitment to enhance the capacity of every young person to develop themselves, our communities and our nation has been vindicated by the fine showing in Beijing," he said. "On behalf of an adoring and grateful nation and my Government, I congratulate our athletics team for bravely going out, conquering valiantly and returning home in triumph. Hongera."
Indeed, there was no stopping of Kenya. For the last three championships, the country has finished in the top five position.
So when Commonwealth Games javelin champion Julius Yego and Nicholas Bett added the two unique gold to the haul, perennial winners USA and Jamaica felt the pressure, but their reaction was not good enough to overturn the tables.
Of course, international championships are all about national pride, so when the final national anthem was recited at the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing on Sunday, there was a sense of invincibility in the country as Kenya made history to emerge the best overall.
"It was the best performance for the country. Kenya has a good feeling about Beijing. In 1996, David Rudisha led Kenya to win the World Junior Championships in Beijing," said Kipchoge Keino, Chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK).
"And 12 years later, Kenya had their best Olympic performance at the Bird's Nest in 2008. Now we are third time lucky with the overall win at the Beijing 2015. Bravo Team Kenya. I am proud of our athletes and everyone who was in Beijing," he added.
But out of Africa, there is now always something new, and faster. And the opposition had better accept that, in middle distance and endurance terms, they are likely to be faster than anything the rest of the world is likely to produce.
Winning medals in sprints (400m hurdles for Nicholas Bett) and javelin (Julius Yego) changed the equation for Kenya.
Despite missing out in some events like 800m women, 5,000m women and 10,000m, which went to either Britain or Ethiopia, Kenya still did well to amass seven gold medal, the best in the competition.
"This is a very good performance and we will now build on it as we head to the Rio Olympics in 2016. Athletics is one of our stronghold and with this kind of performance, we will certainly do well," said David Okeyo, the Athletics Kenya Vice President.
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