Old guard passes baton to younger generation at athletics Worlds

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Nairobi, Aug 12 (IANS) The ongoing 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships in London marked the retirement from track of two seasoned athletes.

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya ran the good race and have passed the baton to the next generation after dominating the short sprints and steeplechase events which were their respective specialty.

“The duo are multiple Olympic and world gold medallists who dominated their events for over a decade and their departure from track has created a vacuum that will not be easily filled,” former world marathon champion, Douglas Wakiihuri told Xinhua on Friday.

“They have done a good job and it is time to pass the baton to the next generation. However, the big question is whether there are athletes who have worked hard enough in the last two years to be able to fit into their big shoes,” Wakiihuri said.

Bolt has called it quits at the age of 30 after his career in the 100 metres and 200m captured the attention and admiration of the world as the fastest man on earth for over a decade.

However, during his final race when it was anticipated he would bid the world with a golden farewell, he lost to a controversial athlete — Justin Gatlin who has a dope-tainted career but beat him into third place in a tight finish.

“He competed on a clean slate for his entire career especially at a time when the sport wallowed under the shadow of doping insinuation that saw the biggest scandal to rock track and field which culminated into Russia being banned from the 2016 Olympics after systematic doping routine was exposed,” former Kenyan international shot-putter, Elizabeth Olaba said.

Bolt is the owner of all four of the fastest times in the 100m his world record of 9.58 remaining unbeaten for eighth year since he achieved the feat in Berlin in 2009.

Ezekiel Kemboi has dominated the 3,000m steeplechase race like the proverbial Colossus during which time he has won four world championships and two Olympic titles all between 2004 and 2015 in the 3,000m steeplechase event.

His personal best time of 7:55.76 he set in Monaco in 2011 places him as the sixth fastest of all time.

The decorated 35-year old king of celebration retired from the water-and-barrier event after he finished in 11th place at the global event and confirmed he was turning to road running.

Known for his celebrations that ranged from dancing, going shirtless and fancy hairstyles to wearing the Kenyan flag as a skirt, Kemboi was a master of controversy in his native country.

“Kemboi’s countryman, Conseslus Kipruto, the reigning world and Olympic champion who understudied his mentor for several years is no doubt his successor,” George Kariuki, the chairman of Athletics Kenya Nairobi branch remarked.

Kipruto finished 15 seconds ahead of Kemboi during the London finals to extend Kenya’s dynasty to nine straight Olympic and world steeplechase titles.

–IANS

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