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Junior athletes return home after medal harvest in Poland

Song, dance and excitement filled the air as the triumphant Kenyan junior athletics team jetted back Tuesday from the World Under-20 Championships held in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

The team’s plane touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at around 10.15 am and when they emerged 45 minutes later, they received a rapturous welcome from brimming relatives, friends and traditional dancers.

Kenya finished second in the championship behind USA, bagging nine medals; five gold, two silver and an equal number of bronze.

Gold medalists Rodgers Kwemoi( 10,000metrres, men ),Amos Kirui (3,000metres steeplechase ,men), Cellphine Chespol (3,000 metres steeplechase, women), Kumari Taki(1,500metres,men) and Bett Kipyegon(800metres,men), were all ecstatic of their conquests.

Emmaculate Chepkirui(5,000metes, women) and Willy Kiplimo Tarbei(800metres, men) bagged silver while Antony Kiptoo and Wesley Ledama bagged bronze each in 1,500 metres and 5,000 metres men races respectively.


“It was a good race and I feel good that I won. I think with the performance I had, I can step up to the seniors. I have to work hard,” said Kwemoi, who is based in Japan, adding that his eyes are now trained on the 2020 Olympics.

“This is just the start of the beginning and I believe moving to Japan helped me a great deal.”

For his part, Kirui, flanked by adoring family members told reporters that his aim is to emulate the 2004 and 2012 Olympic steeplechase champion, Ezekiel Kemboi, whom he considers a role model.

“I have a lot of admiration for him (Ezekiel Kemboi) and I hope to learn, step up and replace him in the future.”

Kirui said that his next frontier is to conquer the World Cross Country championship set for Uganda in March next year noting that dedication, hard work and divine intervention inspired his impressive performances in Bydgoszcz.


Kirui’s coach, Charles Ngau said that he will do all it takes to ensure that the 3,000 metres steeplechase gold winner impresses in next year’s Cross country championship.

A shy school-going Cellphine Chespol, who also floored her opponents to hand Kenya gold in 3,000metres in 9 minutes and 25.15 seconds said that her good training programme aided her success.

“The coach’s tactics and good training programme was behind my success,” the 17-year old Riruta Central, Nairobi student, who is the World Under-18 2,000m steeplechase champion, said.

Kumari Taki, who was raised shoulder high by relatives and friends was more forthright.

“I had to dive at the tape to beat my Ethiopian opponent (Taresa Tolosa) because I wanted this thing (gold medal).I’m more inspired and my target is, of course, the 2020 Olympics.”