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2018 hits and misses in Kenya sporting world – PHOTOS




Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge poses with a clock displaying his time after winning the Berlin Marathon setting a new record on September 16, 2018 in Berlin. PHOTO | AFP 

It has been a mixed-bag of fortunes this year; several milestones were registered, but there have also been lows in the country’s sporting scene. The Business Daily reviews some of these moments


The most memorable scene in Kenya’s 2018 sports was on September 16 when Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge shattered the marathon world record with a blistering run in Berlin, cutting an amazing 78 seconds off the prior best.

The 33-year-old ran an official time of two hours, one minute and 39 seconds — smashing Dennis Kimetto’s previous record that had stood since 2014.

“I lack words to describe this day,” said Kipchoge who in 2017 missed out on becoming the first athlete to run under two hours for the marathon by 26 seconds.

Kipchoge’s feat on that sunny day in the German capital was further crowned by another win for Kenya in the women’s race. The women’s race was won by Gladys Cherono of Kenya in 2:18:11.

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge celebrates winning the Berlin Marathon setting a new world record on September 16. PHOTO | AFP


Kenya is back to Africa’s biggest soccer showpiece after 15 years in the limbo.

Harambee Stars for years known for disappointing attempts to qualify for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) since the last appearance in Tunisia in 2004 finally made it back.

Convincing wins at home against fancied Black Stars of Ghana and the Walla Antelopes of Ethiopia and a hard-earned draw away in Addis Ababa saw Harambee Stars take at least second spot.

A win or draw in the last match in Accra will confirm them as group winners, earning Stars a chance to be seeded at next year’s edition.

Kenya has for decades struggled to make a comeback to the continental tourney since the glorious 70s and 80s.

Kenya's Harambee Stars

Kenya’s Harambee Stars Michael Olunga leads teammates in celebrating his goal against Ethiopia “Walias” during their Africa Cup of Nation Group F match on October 14th 2018 at Moi International Sports Centre, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO |NMG


Local giants Gor Mahia also returned Kenya to continental club championship by qualifying for the CAF Confederations Cup group stage, a feat last achieved three decades ago en-route to winning the then Nelson Mandela Cup in 1989.

The club missed out on a place in the quarters by a solitary point after a 2-1 loss away in Algiers against USM Alger.

Gor Mahia had, however, made a mark in continental club soccer and capped the year with a trip to Goodison Park where they lost 4-0 to English side Everton in the Sportpesa Cup.

The two were the highest points in the local soccer and brought back optimism after many years of dismal runs in both national and club tourneys.

Harambee Stars are back at Afcon while Gor Mahia took a big step towards an historic place in the lucrative CAF Champions League group. They stand to win Sh55 million if they make the group stage.

They thrashed Lobi Stars of Nigeria 3-1 on Sunday and hold a healthy lead heading to the return match in Lagos on Friday.

Gor Mahia

Gor Mahia fans celebrate Bernard Ondieki extra-time goal against Malawi Nyasa Big Bullets during Ca af Africa Champions league match in November. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The national rugby Sevens side hit a historic 100-point per season for the first time at the London leg of the IRB Sevens. The then Innocent Simiyu-led charges achieved the feat after thrashing Argentina 42-10 to reach the Challenge Trophy final in June.

Mesulami Kunavula Kunalo of Fiji tackles Erick Ombasa of Kenya

Mesulami Kunavula Kunalo of Fiji tackles Erick Ombasa of Kenya during the Men’s Sevens World Rugby Dubai Series. PHOTO | AFP


Kenyan athletics has this year had embarrassing moments after several athletes were caught in doping scandals.

Renowned 1,500 metres world and former Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop was the biggest casualty in the drugs shame when he tested positive for the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) in November last year.
The three-time world champion is yet to make a return to the track and faces a potential ban by IAAF.

Sprinter Boniface Mweresa was expelled from the country’s team to the Africa Senior Championship in Asaba Nigeria after failing a doping test in July.

Former Commonwealth Games 10,000 metres champion Lucy Kabuu was suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) in August.

The agency, charged by IAAF to monitor doping among athletes said Kabuu tested positive for morphine during the Milan marathon in April that she won.

The four join a stellar cast of former three-time Boston City marathon champion Rita Jeptoo and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics champion Jemima Sumgong serving provisional suspensions.

The country known for its dominance in the middle and long distance running ends the year amid doping controversy that has clouded Kipchoge’s stellar achievement.

Jemima Jelagat Sumgong

Jemima Jelagat Sumgong reacting during the podium ceremony of the Women’s Marathon at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. PHOTO | AFP

Former 400 metres World champion Nicholas Bett died in August, a huge loss for local athletics. Bett died in a road accident in August in Sochoi area Nandi, robbing the country of arguably its best sprinter for years.

Bett won Kenya its first-ever sprinting gold during the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.

In May, former Kenya Under-20 international athlete Sheila Chepng’etich passed on. The 2014 World Under-20 1500m bronze medallist, who was serving a ban on a doping offence, died at Kericho County Referral Hospital.
Chepng’etich, who won silver in 3000m and bronze in 1500m at the 2013 Africa Under-20 Championships had been serving the four-year ban since 2014 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substances during the Iris Lotto Cross Cup in Belgium on December 21, 2014. The 22-year-old also represented Kenya at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships in Poland, finishing eighth in Under-20 race.

Nicholas Bett

Nicholas Bett celebrates winning the final of the men’s 400 metres hurdles at the 2015 IAAF World Championships at the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium in Beijing. PHOTO | AFP

In January, the gaming firm withdrew its more than Sh1 billion sponsorship to local sports after the government increased from 7.5 per cent to 35 per cent.

The top flight Kenya Premier League (KPL), both 15-aside and 7-aside national rugby teams were the biggest losers after Sportpesa withdrew its sponsorship worth millions of shillings over increased taxation by the government.

Football Kenya Federation(FKF), Kenya Rugby Union(KRU), Kenyan Premier League(KPL), AFC Leopards Football Club, Gor Mahia Football Club, Nakuru All Stars Football Club and the Kenya Boxing Association(KBA) were also big losers.

Sportpesa came back in April after government slashed the taxation rate to 15 per cent but did not renew its deal with KRU and rugby has since been experiencing new lows.

 Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri.

Sportpesa CEO Ronald Karauri. FILE PHOTO | NMG


Players of the national Sevens rugby team, Shujaa, blacked out the Brand Kenya logo during the IRB Sevens leg in Paris in June to protest delayed payment from the Ministry of Tourism, highlighting the funding troubles at KRU.

Kenya’s Leonard Mugaisi (right) pursued by England’s Dan Norton

Kenya’s Leonard Mugaisi (right) pursued by England’s Dan Norton at a Sevens tournament on December 8, 2018 at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town. PHOTO | AFP