Police brought all but two of Berlin medals

Marathon winner Abel Kirui (left), a member of the Administration Police and Emmanuel Mutai arrive at the JKIA after a successful championship in Berlin. PHOTO/ CORRESPONDENT

What you need to know:

  • Force won nine titles as Kenya led Africa and were third in the world

Athletics head coach Peter Mathu has declined to take full credit to Kenya’s performance in 12th World Championship in Athletics staged in Berlin, Germany.

He instead paid tribute to his predecessor, Julius Kirwa, and Kenya Police which had nine of the 11 medallist as the actual winners.

And to affirm the coach’s sentiments, Police Commissioner Hussein Ali was personally present at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to marshal in his boys and girls to a reception fit for the kings and queens that they are.

All the track champions came from the Kenya Police, save for the two marathon runners Abel Kirui (Administration Police) and Emmanuel Mutai (individual).

From Kenya’s first medal clinched by Linet Masai to those by Ezekiel Kemboi, Vivian Cheruiyot, Alfred Kirwa, Sylvia Kibet, Janeth Jepkosgei, Richard Mateelong, Moses Masai and Milka Chemos, the Kiganjo boys and girls answered the nation’s call to do battle at the global championship.

Regain fans’ trust

Olympic 1,500m silver medallist Asbel Kiprop will however find it hard to regain the fans’ trust, having thrown away the four-lap race title in what the coach called poor strategy.

“He had a problem that I cannot say. He will be best placed to speak on what went wrong with him. But certainly, the level of competition was high and we did fight,” said Mathu.

The coach had two tasks: to have the women team back on the medal podium, which he succeeded in, and to end Ethiopia’s domination of the men’s long distance race. As for the second task, Mathu acknowledged failure and said he will need to plan afresh.

“We penetrated the Ethiopians in the women side and that makes me happy. But it is only [Kenenisa] Bekele who remains a stumbling block to us,” said Mathu.

He might have bought temporary reprieve courtesy of the women athletes’ performance. However, Mathu is alive with the task that awaits the team in April when Ethiopia brings the battle to Nairobi at the Africa Senior Athletics Championship.

“Ethiopians will come here at home seeking revenge and to destroy our ego. But we will be ready for them; we are not taking our foot off the preparation pedal,” said Mathu.

Kenya finished third overall in Berlin, behind winners United States of America and Jamaica. The team chalked up 11 medals – four gold, five silver and two bronze.

In Africa, however, Kenya were tops, with perennial rivals Ethiopia lagging behind in seventh slot with two gold medals from Bekele while South Africa were ninth.

The medal haul shrank from that of Osaka, Japan, two years ago – five gold, three silver and five silver.

But the enthusiastic fans, relatives, friends and officials at the airport were never bothered as they put their best foot forward in traditional dance to welcome their heroes and heroines back home.

To them, it was a battle won and the 32 who did not get a medal will live to fight another day.