By Jon Mulkeen,
THE African Championships in Marrakech kicked off on Sunday (10) with the men’s 10,000m, one of the most hotly contested events on the programme. After little more than 28 minutes of running, Eritrea’s Nguse Amlosom emerged as the victor.
In doing so, he made a little bit of history by becoming the first Eritrean athlete ever to win gold – or indeed a medal of any colour – at the African Championships.
Held in the same stadium that will host the IAAF Continental Cup later this year, the men’s 10,000m was the first track final of the five-day championships. And it did not disappoint.
Heading into the final lap, Amlosom, who finished eighth in the 25-lap event at the 2013 World Championships and 15th at the 2012 Olympics, was one of four athletes still in contention and was perhaps the least favoured.
Moroccan champion Mustapha El Aziz had the benefit of the home crowd behind him, while 2008 world junior champion Josphat Bett was fresh from winning a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. Ethiopian champion Adugna Tekele was something of an unknown quantity, competing in just his second ever track race.
By this point of the race, recently crowned world junior champion Joshua Cheptegei had failed to finish, while his Ugandan team-mate and two-time Commonwealth champion Moses Kipsiro was a non-starter.
Nevertheless, it made the race no less exciting as the quartet kicked hard for the finish line. Tekele was the first to fade out of medal contention. El Aziz pushed Amlosom all the way, but the Eritrean held on to win in 28:11.07, finishing 0.29 ahead of the Moroccan. Bett finished third in 28:11.61.