After 10 days of riveting action, upsets and dominance, the curtain falls on the IAAF World Championships tonight with Kenya hoping to finish second overall behind the mighty USA on the medals log.
Kenya stunned the athletics world when they raked in seven gold medals to bag the overall title for the first time in Beijing two years ago with Julius Yego’s gold medal throw in the javelin and Nicholas Bett’s shock victory in the 400 metres hurdles the standout performances.
Organisers here will pat themselves on the back for a great championship with Kenya relinquishing the overall title to USA but with their heads held high.
Security has been water-tight with not a single incident reported over the last two weeks while ticket sales were high, the 55,000-seater stadium that is home to premiership club West Ham United, full to the brim for all morning and evening sessions.
This despite the fact that tickets were quite dear, the cheapest selling at 35 pounds (Sh4,725) and the most expensive at 155 pounds (Sh20,925). With income from ticket sales estimated at over Sh60 million, organisers will gleefully appreciate a job well done.
This weekend’s sessions were also sold out with England happy that the stadium constructed for the 2012 Olympic Games has indeed been a great legacy to this sports-loving nation.
Former Olympic champion and record holder Sebastian Coe was the head of the London 2012 Olympics Games’ Local Organising Committee and has been pretty much the central figure at these championships, this time as President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
Coe has already said that he would like to see an African nation hosting the senior World Championships and with the success of organising the IAAF World Under-18 Championships last month, Nairobi is most certainly a top candidate.
Sunday night’s final session starts at 8.35pm Kenyan time with the medal ceremony for the men’s javelin with the final track event being the 4x400m men’s and women’s relays from 11.31pm.
Kenyans will be in action in the women’s 5,000m (9.35pm), 800m (10.10pm) and 1,500m (10.30pm) with the closing ceremony pencilled for 11.45pm.
The media here has tipped Asbel Kiprop to retain his 1,500m title, the three-time champion having impressed in his attack from the back to shine in the first round and semi-finals.
“Kiprop is a championship runner, much in the ilk of Mo Farah, and will be a key threat to the rest of the pack,” the Evening Standard wrote on Friday.
If he wins, Kiprop will have chalked up his fourth straight world title in an amazing 10-year career started off with victory in the junior race at the 2007 World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa.
Kiprop is also the 2008 Olympic champion in the 1,500m having run his personal best time of 3:26.69 in 2015.
“10 years is a long time and I’m glad that I’ve been around to see the new stars come through,” Kiprop said on Friday night after coming out of the semis unscathed.
With victory Sunday night, the policeman will also be celebrating a rewarding year that started off brilliantly with a gold medal in the newly-introduced mixed relays at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala in March.
Fellow policeman Elijah Motonei Manangoi will also be inspired by his younger brother George Manangoi’s gold medal in the same race at last month’s World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi.
With a PB of 3:28.80, he will be among the top contenders alongside Kiprop and the new kid on the block, 21-year-old Timothy Cheruiyot who ran a personal best of 3:29.10 at last month’s Monaco Diamond League meeting.
Watch him: Cheruiyot is pretty much the dark horse in this race and I can bet on him finishing on the podium, or even denying Kiprop a fourth straight title.
Podium places for the three will celebrate the end of what has been a successful outing for team Kenya here.