Cheptegei, Tola, Kipyegon lead Africa’s gold rush at World Athletics Championships

Joshua Cheptegei, of Uganda, embraces Jacob Kiplimo, of Uganda, after Cheptegei won the men's 10000-meter run final at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday, July 17, 2022, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Ethiopia and Kenya increased their respective medal counts at the World Athletics Championships following an impressive haul on the third and fourth days of the event.

Ethiopia is up to second, only behind the United States, with three gold and three silver medals while Kenya is in third place with one gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola crosses the finish line to win the men’s marathon final during the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon. /CFP

The gold rush began on Sunday with Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola winning the men’s marathon in a new Championship record of 2:05:36 ahead of compatriot Mosinet Geremew who came second in 2:06:44.

Later on, 5000m and 10,000m world record holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda made history winning the 10,000m in a season’s best time of 27:27.43 while Kenya’s Stanley Mburu and compatriot Jacob Kiplimo came in second and third, respectively, both clocking season-best times.

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei reacts after winning the men’s 10,000m final during the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. /CFP

Cheptegei is only the fourth man to win back-to-back 10,000m world titles along with Ethiopian duo Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele and Britain’s Mo Farah.

On Monday, Gotytom Gebreslase matched her compatriot Tola by winning the women’s marathon in a championship record of 2:18:11 on her World Championships debut. Kenya’s Judith Korir, who was also making her debut and led the race for long stages, was second in a personal best of 2:18:20.

After bagging silver in London in 2017 and bronze in Doha in 2019, Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco finally made the step up to the top of the World Championships by winning the men’s 3,000m steeplechase in 8:25.13.

Soufiane El Bakkali of Team Morocco celebrates after winning gold in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase final. /CFP

El Bakkali ended Kenya’s impressive run of seven straight world titles in the event and ensured that for only the third time in the last 16 such world championship races the East African nation did not claim the title. Saif Saaeed Shaheen, a Kenyan-born athlete who represented Qatar, won the title in 2003 and 2005.

Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma finished second, as he did in Doha in 2019, in 8:26.01 ahead of two-time defending champion Conseslus Kipruto in 8:27.92. Kipruto’s failure to overhaul Girma meant this was the first time a Kenyan has finished out of the top two since 1991.

Kenya would win its first gold medal of the championships as two-time Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon won the women’s 1,500m in 3:52.96 to claim a second world title. Kipyegon boasts the two fastest times on U.S. soil with the leading time being her 3:52.59 at the Prefontaine Classic in May on the same track.

Faith Kipyegon of Team Kenya reacts after competing in the women’s 1,500m final. /CFP

The 28-year-old has managed to finish first or second in every major world championship since 2015.

World indoor champion Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia, who won bronze at the last championships, came in second in 3:54.52.

Day 5 of the Championships will see Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot defend his men’s 1,500m title against a field that includes compatriot Abel Kipsang and Ethiopia’s Teddese Lemi.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)