Kenya wraps up Paralympic Games on a high note
Nancy Chelagat clinched silver in the 1,500m T11 women’s final at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday night to give Kenya a perfect end to the Paralympic Games.
Chelagat, 21, ran a tactically shrewd race full of grace and calmness fending off stiff competition to cross the finish line in 4.42.12min behind Jin Zheng of China, who snatched gold in a world record time of 4.38.92min.
Colombian Arango Buitrago, guided by Sanchez Gonzalez, came third to settle for bronze in 4.45.33, while home girl, Brazilian, Bazone Teixeira was a distant fourth in 5.01.75.
It was a befitting reward to Chelagat who earlier on in the competition failed to qualify for the 200m finals.
For Zheng it was a night of firsts as she not only claimed the top honours but also smashed the 4.44.06min record she set in Incheon, South Korea in October, 2014. Remarkably, Chelagat also ran 1.94 seconds faster than Zheng’s previous record.
Chelagat’s win took Kenya’s medal tally to six (3 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze) which bettered the performance of London four years ago where the country claimed 2 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals.
“We are happy that despite our small number we have won six medals. If we can get our act together and hold our qualifiers early to concentrate in preparations then we have the potential to do even better,” team manager John Tita told Daily Nation Sport.
With just seven athletes, one power lifter and one rower, the Kenyan team had an impressive outing and the challenge will be on the Kenya National Paralympic Committee (KNPC) to widen the scope and scout for more talents for field events.
The Kenyan team is expected to jet back into the country on Friday.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s events were overshadowed by the tragic death of Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad while competing in a road race.
The 48-year-old was involved in a crash on the first section of the Grumari loop, a mountainous stretch of the course. The athlete received treatment at the scene but suffered a cardiac arrest as he was being taken to hospital.
The International Paralympic Committee president, Sir Philip Craven, was among the first to mourn the loss.
“This is truly heart-breaking news and the thoughts and condolences of the whole Paralympic Movement are with Bahman’s family, friends, and teammates as well as the whole of the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of Iran,” Craven told IPC website.