Africans have proved themselves as the undisputed masters in athletics at the just ended Berlin World Athletics Championships. Kenya and Ethiopia were among the top countries to harvest the highest number of medals. South Africa not only became the new 800 meter nation, but also produced a surprise: Caster Semenya, an intriguing champion. Overview of a select group African stars from the Berlin atheletics championships.
Kenenisa Bekele: The Ethiopian long distance Emperor
In Berlin, Kenenisa Bekele became quadruple World Champion in the 10 000 m category with 26’46 “31. At 27, he has joined his idol and compatriot Haile Gebrselassie in the closed circle of quadruple world champions. As if this were not enough, he won himself another gold medal in the 5 000 m race on August 23, the last day of Berlin World Championships.
Abel Kirui: first selection, first gold medal
Abel Kirui finished the marathon in 2 h 06 min 54 sec, ahead of his compatriots Emmanuel Mutai and Tsegay Kebede, the Ethiopian. Running in the international race for the first time, the Kenyan won the third ever world championship marathon title for his country.
Caster Semenya, the controversial Queen of 800m
She set a new world record after finishing the 800m in 1’55”45, two seconds less than the standing wordl record. But what has made her more famous are doubts surrounding her sexual identity. The South African Caster Semenya is expected to undergo femininity tests demanded by the IAAF. But she can count on the support of the rainbow nation following a warm welcom she received on Tuesday upon her arrival in South Africa. Caster Semenya has been nicknamed the “golden girl” of South Africa.
Mbulaeni Mulaudzi: another South African 800 m sensation
As if to prove that performance is not a gender issue, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi confirmed his country’s supremacy in 800 m when he finished first at 1’45”29. He was the oldest runner to participate in the 800 m final. Mbulaeni won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic and a bronze medal at the world championships in 2003.
Ezekiel Kemboi’s 3 000 steeplechase
Ezekiel Kemboi had missed the gold medal in the three previous world championships. But now, Berlin rhymes with luck for the Kenyan. He ran the 3 000 m steeplechase in 8’00”43, ahead of his compatriot Richard Mateelong. His medal and the double 1-2 finish consolidated Kenya’s monopoly in the 3000 m discipline. Kenyan athletes have always been present come what may, since 1991. The performance of Kenyan-born Qatari, Saeed Shaheen, should not be ignored.
The 10 000 m gold for Kenya’s Linet Masai
The Kenyan’s performance cost Ethiopia a gold medal for the first time since 1997. Linet Masai, 19, became world champion for the 10 000 in discipline, finishing at 30 ’51”24 m ahead of two Ethiopians, Meselech Melkamu and Meseret Defar.
Berlin 2009 Medal Table
|1||United States (USA)||10||6||6||22|
|8||Great Britain (GBR)||2||2||2||6|
|9||South Africa (RSA)||2||1||0||3|