What you need to know:
- Cherop, the World Under-20 3,000 metres bronze medallist, claimed an unprecedented three gold medals in girls’ under-18 from Ndola, a famous copper mining region.
- Cherop, who only took up athletics upon completing her Form Four last year at Chelebei Secondary School in Mount Elgon, won the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m races in Ndola.
The focus was on one golden girl from Mount Elgon as Team Kenya jetted back from the just concluded Africa Athletics Under-18 and Under-20 Championships in Ndola, Zambia.
From the haul of 33 medals; 13 gold, eight silver and 12 bronze that saw the country emerge third overall, a phenomenal Nancy Cherop had the lion’s share of the success.
Cherop, the World Under-20 3,000 metres bronze medallist, claimed an unprecedented three gold medals in girls’ under-18 from Ndola, a famous copper mining region.
Cherop, who only took up athletics upon completing her Form Four last year at Chelebei Secondary School in Mount Elgon, won the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m races in Ndola.
She started her haul with an effortless victory in the 1,500m in four minutes and 10.73 seconds as compatriot Janet Chepkemoi settled for bronze in 4:27.00. Ethiopia’s Aselef Amare came in between to ruin the party at 4:20.50.
Then Cherop would lead her compatriots in a clean sweep of all the podium places in the 800m, timing 2:05.58 as Daisy Chepng’etich went for silver in 2:06.68 and Janet Chepkemoi took bronze in 2:08.16.
She then went for victory in the 3,000m as fellow country girl Joyline Chekemoi settled for bronze in the five-day championships that ended on Wednesday at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium.
Having learnt her athletics trade from her father, Geoffrey Kiprotich and uncle James Kwalia, Cherop is now focused on emulating her role model and two-times World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri.
“I expected the performance having trained well under my coach Peter Bii in Mount Elgon before joining the rest in camp,” said Cherop, who only started serious training just before travelling with Team Kenya for the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Cali, Colombia last year.
“I was busy with school but I had all the time up to now,” said Cherop, who thanked her father, uncle and those who supported her at Team Kenya camp and Athletics Kenya.
“Such results come through concerted efforts,” said Cherop at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon arrival.
Cherop said she will now turn her focus on the Commonwealth Youth Games scheduled for August 4 to 11 this year in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Kenya finished third behind winners South Africa, who once again topped the medal standings with 66 medals; 33 gold, 19 silver and 14 bronze.
Nigeria emerged second with 17 gold, nine silver and seven bronze medals.
Team Manager Joseph Ilovi said the results could have tilted Kenya's way if the country had more numbers across the events.
Ilovi noted that South Africa beat the rest especially in field events where they claimed almost all the gold medals.
"They claimed all the four gold medals for instance in pole vault besides having an entry of 120 athletes while we had 48," said Ilovi.
Under-18: Nancy Cherop (1,500m, 800m, 3,000m), Josphat Sang (1,500m), Edmund Serem (2,000m steeplechase), Kelvin Kimutai (800m)
Under-20: Denmnis Mutuku (10,000m), Reynold Kipkorir (1,500m), Irene Chepkemoi (javelin), Pamela Kosgei (3,000m steeplechase), Emmanuel Wafula (3,000m steeplechase), Peninah Mutisya (800m), Brian Kiptum (800m)
Under-18: Janeth Chepkemoi (1,500m), Brian Muange (1,500m), Samuel Toili (400m), Evans Kipkosgei (2,000m steeplechase), Andrew Kiptoo (3,000m), Daisy Chepng’etich (800m)
Under-20: Amos Lagat (10,000m), Gilbert Rono (1,500m)
Under-18: Joyline Chepkemoi (3,000m), Clinton Kimutai (3,000m), Caroline Anyango (javelin), Diana Chepkemoi (2,000m steeplechase), Janeth Chepkoech (800m), Amos Kipkemoi (400m hurdles), mixed relay, medley relay
Under-20: Samuel Kibathi (10,000m), Stephen Ndagili (10,000m race walk), Vincent Kimaiyo (5,000m), Judith Kemunto (800m)