Wanjiru strikes walk gold, Njoki gets bronze
Published on May 5, 2008, 12:00 am
By Mutwiri Mutuota
Grace Wanjiru got the last day of competition at the 16th Confederation of African Athletics Championship (CAA) off to a golden start.
The Kenyan scooped her second women’s 20km continental title in a championship record time of 1:39:50 on Sunday.
It was Kenya’s third gold medal in championships after earlier winning performances from David Rudisha (800m men) and Richard Mateelong (3000m steeplechase).
The six-time national champion took the lead with five kilometres to go before striding to gold ahead of Ethiopia’s Asnakech Ararsa (1:40:12) and compatriot Mary Njoki who settled for bronze in 1:41:15.
“It’s great to win my second medal but the conditions were very hard. I knew it was mine when I managed to pull away from the Ethiopian,” Wanjiru said.
In the men’s event, defending Africa champion and eleven time Kenyan title holder, David Kimutai’s hopes of adding his second CAA gold ended with a fourth place finish in 1:25:08.
Both 20km walk events were held under heavy morning downpour in the streets of Addis and ended in the stadium. Wanjiru first won the title in 2004 in Brazzaville, Congo, in 1:42.45 but failed to defend her title in Mauritius two years later and Egypt’s Nagwa Ibrahim Saleh (1:43.22) took the top medal.
It was the third women’s 20km walk event in the history of the CAA.
“The rain was too much and gave us many problems, but I am happy with bronze,” Njoki said.
She would have clinched the Kenyan 1-2 but had to stop for 30 seconds to tie her shoe laces that loosened with 6km to go.
In the men’s event, Kimutai came fourth behind Algerian pair Mohammed Ameur (1:22:55) and Hicham Medjeber (1:23:29) who took gold and silver and bronze medallist, Tunisian Hassanine Sbai (1:23:58).
Meanwhile, Chris Harmse extended South Africa’s dominance in field events as he added gold to their huge collection in the men’s hammer.
Harmse posted a championship record of 77.72m to erase his previous record of 77.55m. Egypt took silver and bronze courtesy of Moustafa Al Gamal, who threw a distant 69.70m and Ahmed Abdul Raouf (68.15m).
This was the eighth time Harmse was breaking the African record. He holds both the championship and all Africa Games record. Things were, however, different for South Africa in the men’s pole vault as Moroccan Mauhcine Chaouri reigned supreme.