IN ASABA, NIGERIA
Kenya's Emmanuel Korir settled for silver in the men's 800m final as Nigel Amos of Botswana struck gold in the Africa Athletics Championships at Asaba's Stephen Keshi Stadium on Friday.
Korir, who stayed in the middle of the pack with compatriot Fergusson Rotich, tried to kick with 200m to go but the experienced Amos outpaced him for victory.
There was a major mix-up in the men’s 800 metres final which ought to have been recalled after a chaotic start with pre-race favourite Korir finishing second behind Botswana’s defending champion Amos.
Amos, who occasionally trains in Kenya, won in one minute, 45.20 seconds with Korir timed at 1:45.65.
Ferguson Rotich (1:45.91) and Jonathan Kitilit (1:46.88) finished fifth and sixth in the race that saw the starter blast off before the athletes were ready, prompting some of them to stand still only to take off after the rest of the field was away.
“The race should have been recalled. The organisation at these championships has been terrible but I’m still focused and will move on,” said a disappointed Korir, a student at the University of Texas El Paso in the US.
Athletics Kenya officials along with Korir’s coach at the Utep, former Olympic 800m champion Paul Ereng, lodged an appeal with the championship’s jury which was overruled with the pedestrian argument that “all the athletes were affected by the false start.”
“We first made an oral appeal and then made the formal written appeal that was overruled by the officials who argued that although it was a false start, all the athletes were effected,” Peter Angwenyi, the assistant team manager here said.
“This is quite unfair because if it indeed was a false start, the race should have been recalled,” added head coach Stephen Mwaniki.
Athletics Kenya chief executive Susan Kamau also said they were extremely disappointed by the turn of events at these championships that have been rocked by problem after problem.
“I’ve never seen such terrible organisation in my life,” said Ereng, Olympic champion at the 1988 Seoul Games.