Kenya Benjamin Kigen is the new African Games men’s 3,000m steeplechase champion.
Kigen, who was fresh from winning the national men’s 3,000m steeplechase title on Saturday at the Nyayo National Stadium, claimed his maiden major, clocking 8 minutes and 12.39 seconds on Monday in Rabat, Morocco.
Kigen stunned pre-race favourite and home athlete Soufiane El Bakkali, who had to swallow humble pie for bronze in 8:19.45. It’s Ethiopia’s Wale Getnet Bayabl that took silver in 8:14.06.
The 26-year-old Kigen, who hails from Baringo and is coached by Isaac Rono, broke to international limelight last year when he won the Prefontaine Classic in personal best 8:09.97.
It was Kenya’s first gold medal at the African Games as Kigen ensured that Kenya retained the steeplechase title.
Earlier, National 100m record holder Maximilla Imali cruised into the women’s 100m final.
Imali stormed the final despite finishing second in the semi-finals in 11.71 losing the battle to African Games 100m and 200m defending champion Marie Josee Ta Lou from Cote D’Ivoire, who won the race in 11.36.
Another favourite, the 2011 Maputo African Games 100m champion Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, was disqualified from the heat for a false start.
Gina Bass won the second semi in 11.36 to qualify alongside second placed Egyptian Basant Hemida, who timed 11.41 for second. Nigerian Joy Udo-Gabriel claimed the third semi in 11.47 to ease through to the final alongside second placed South Africa Tebogo Mamathu in 11.63.
Elsewhere, Africa Under-20 400m champion Mary Moraa and Joseph Poghisio won their respective 400m heats to lead compatriots national 400m champion Alphas Kishoyian and Linda Kageha in qualifying for the 400m semi-finals due for Tuesday.
Moraa, the 2017 World Under-18 400m silver medallist, stormed to victory in the third heat in 52.31 seconds beating Uganda’s Leni Shida to second in 53.31. Home athlete Assia Raziki came in third in 53.43 to seal the last qualifying in the heat.
Kageha finished third in fourth heat in 54.12 to ease through to the semi-finals alongside the winner Beatrice Muwaye from Namibia in 53.33 and Nigerian Patience Okon, who timed 53.55 for second place.
Kenya’s Hellen Syombua, who has been nursing a hamstring injury, settled in a disappointing seventh in the second heat in 58.88 hence failing to qualify to the semis.
Galefele Moroko from Botswana timed 52.70 to win the heat followed by Stella Akullu from Uganda in 54.99 and Nigerian Jecinta Amarachukwu in 55.24 to all make the semis.
Poghisio won the sixth heat in 47.41 beating Moroccan Said El Guebbaz and Jeremy Cotte of Mauritius in 47.72 and 48.46 respcti8vely as they all reached the semis.
The leading Kishoyian eased off towards the line to come in second in 46.46 losing to Ditiro Nzamani from Botswana in 46.42.
The other Kenyan in the one-lap race Raymond Kibet fell on the way when he settled seventh in 48.86 in a heat won by South African Derrick Mokaleng in 46.41.
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