Kenya continued to reign supreme in athletics here at the delayed 24th Summer Deaflympics with Ian Wambui winning the country’s second gold medal in the men’s 1500 metres.
Linet Nanjala, who was part of Team Kenya that Monday scooped silver medal in mixed relays, Tuesday added more honours to her name by bagging bronze in the women’s 400m.
Wambui showed his intent to triumph in the race when he started strongly, with his only compatriots in the contest Elikana Rono and Brian Kosgei following him closely.
It painted a picture of a coordinated race by the home athletes, raising expectations of another Kenyan podium sweep in the races taking place the Sesi Centro Esportivo Athletics Track as happened in the 10,000m the previous day.
But Rono and Kosgei slowed after the second lap and they were overtaken by other athletes.
Wambui fought off stiff opposition from Spaniard Jaime Martinez to triumph in three minutes and 55.54 seconds.
Matinez finished second in 3:56.18, while German Alexander Bley settled for third in 3:57.10. Rono and Kosgei finished fourth and eighth respectively in 3:57.10 and 4:05.58.
“Because it is my first time competing outside the country (Kenya), this victory means a lot to me. We started strongly because we did not want to take chances. Unfortunately, my colleagues were exhausted, so I decided to run my own race and bring glory to my country,” said an elated Wambui.
He will be seeking to make it a double in the men’s 5000m where defending champion Symon Kibai has also set the same goal after winning gold in the men’s 10000m on Monday.
“The win is a big motivation to me ahead of the 5000m. It will be a tough one since Kibai will be in the same race but I hope to beat him,” said Wambui.
The 1500m defending champion John Koech watched Wambui romp to victory from the stands since he did not make the cut during the national trials held in March at Nyayo National stadium in Nairobi.
But he qualified for the men’s 800m where he has vowed to win gold.
“I happy for him (Wambui) because he has made the country proud. I hope I will also win gold in my race tomorrow.”
Nanjala’s 400m celebration was delayed since she finished almost the same time as Yuliia Shapoval.
A photo finish, however, established that Nanjala was the third best athlete in the race in 59.34 seconds.
Ukrainians Kristina Kiniankina and Solomiia Kuprych finished first and second in 57.58 and 57.98 respectively.
The two additional medals saw Kenya move to 12th in the medal table with a total of nine medals (two gold, three silver and four bronze).
Kenya, who hope to improve from their ninth place finish at the 2017 Turkey Games, tops in Africa, while Ukraine leads globally with 89 medals (42 gold, 22 silver and 25 bronze).
USA are second with 38 medals (17 gold, five silver and 16 bronze), while Japan are third with 27 medals (11 gold, seven silver and nine bronze).
Meanwhile, Kenya’s top deaf golfer Isaac Makokha is firmly in the medals race after progressing to the quarter-finals by virtue of finishing fourth overall in stroke play.
The Vet Lab Sports Club golfer was scheduled to play Nielson Lasse of Denmark at the Caxias Golf Club.
The quarterfinals is being played in a matchplay format with the winner progressing to the semifinals.
At the 2017 Turkey Games, Makokha finished fifth. Former Muthaiga Golf Club caddies Gilbert Alikula and Adan Wario, who are Kenya’s other representatives in the Games, failed to make the cut.
Wario pulled out after picking up a hand injury, while Alikula finished outside the top 16 in stroke play.