Kenyans shine at inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore

Kenya’s Virginia Nyambura (left), China’s Li Lijiao (third left) and other athletes compete in the girl’s 2,000m steeplechase qualification at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore on Thursday. Nyambura stayed on course for a medal after qualifying for the final. AFP PHOTO / HO / Meng Yongmin / SYOGOC

Kenya’s Virginia Nyambura put herself on course to winning a gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore on Thursday after winning her heat in the 2,000 metres steeplechase, beating a field of 13 athletes.

Nyambura clocked six minutes and 42.40 seconds as she raced to the finish line ahead of Ethiopian Tsenga Tsehynesh who came in at 6:46.08. Ukrainian Raita Oksana was third at 6:52.36.

In the boys’ 2,000m steeplechase heat one, it was Ethiopia’s time to upstage Kenya when Fayisa Habtamu who beat Peter Mutuku to the tape clocking 5:38.72. Mutuku came in closely at 5:38.72 while Ugandan Zakaria Kiprotich was third at 5:44.51.

In the 1,000 metres, Kenyan Damaris Muthee recorded her personal best time but still had to contend with finishing third behind Ethiopian Asame Tizita who clocked 2:46.34 and German Hanna Klein who camer in at 2:46.93. Muthee came in at a time of 2:47.09 seconds.

Friday is a rest day but Kenyans should expect a medal on Sunday when Gladys Chesir takes to the field in the 3,000 metres final.

The inaugural Youth Olympics has been marred by scores of empty seats at competition venues despite fans being told it was sold-out, forcing organisers yesterday to address ticketing problems.

The issue appears to lie with spectators not staying for the duration of the sessions they have paid for, which can last up to seven hours, local reports said.

This has seen queues of people outside stadiums unable to purchase a ticket despite the venues being half-empty.

With complaints growing as the Games reached their half-way point, Minister for Community Development and Sport Vivian Balakrishnan instructed venue managers to re-sell tickets if seats were unoccupied once the session started.

“What I have been receiving now is many appeals, through email, phone calls and SMS, that, ‘I want to get into this particular event, I can’t get tickets, what can I do?’” Balakrishnan told the Straits Times newspaper.

“What we realise is that although all the tickets are sold, some people come late or they leave early.”


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