James Magayi in Asaba
World champion Helen Obiri added another golden feather to her fast crowding tiara of athletics honours when she won gold in the women’s 5,000m race at Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria last evening.
Obiri who had won gold at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year rose to the occasion to give Kenya a timely confidence boost with her performance at the legendary Stephen Keshi Stadium, stopping the clock at 15:47.18 to bag Kenya’s first gold.
She planned her run perfectly, first leading a six-woman pack away from the also-runs before pulling away effortlessly from the leading pack exclusively made up of Kenyans and Ethiopians. With four laps to go Obiri created a 30-metre gap that widened as distance reduced.
At the end she scooped gold in and defended the title won by Sheila Chepkurui in Durban, South Africa two years as Ethiopia picked silver and bronze.
Lilian Kasait finished a distant fifth in 16:04.18 as Loice Chemining followed her in 16:25.78.
The duo fought hard to offer Obiri back up in the face of a three pronged Ethiopian challenge fizzled out in the final lap. “I’m so happy for winning this title. At least I had rested and recovered so I concentrated on my race. We had a game plan knowing the Ethiopians would challenge us. We stuck to it and executed well. Now my focus turns to the upcoming Continental Cup.
There’s no time to rest when I get back home,” Obiri said after the race
In the 800m opening round, all Kenyan representatives sailed through by winning their various heats. Experienced two-lap runner Ferguson Rotich led his compatriots with a gun to tape performance which was emulated by the fastest man this year Emmanuel Korir and seasoned racer Jonathan Kitili.
Rotich clocked 1:48.19 to win heat one while Korir recorded the fastest time, a 1:46.92 in the second heat. Kitilit stopped the clock at 1:46.99.