alexa Hunt for elusive relay gold on - Daily Nation

Hunt for elusive relay gold on

Thursday September 1 2011

It will probably be impossible to get through on phone to Hezekiah Nyamao, Charles Asati and Robert Ouko for about three minutes from 3.15pm on Friday afternoon.

In fact, it’s advised that you just try and call again later.

Because the trio will be glued to their television sets in Kisii and Nyamira, watching the rare sight of Kenyans running in the 4x400 metres relay final that will be broadcast live from the World Championships in Athletics here in Daegu.

The three legends have special interest in this race because, at the Olympic Stadium in Munich 39 years ago, they won gold for Kenya in this relay at the Olympic Games.

The fourth member of the quartet, Julius Sang, died on April 9, 2004.

The Munich gold came four years after Kenya took silver at the ’68 Mexico Games through a team that included Daegu 800m World champion David Rudisha’s father Daniel.

The other three team members were Nyamao, Asati and Naftali Bon.

Since that Munich ’72 performance, Kenya has struggled to break into the final, let alone sprint into the medals bracket, at global competition.

But on Thursday, fresh hope was delivered by the quartet of Vincent Kiplangat Kosgei, Anderson Mureta, Vincent Mumo and Mark Mutai, who made the 4x400m final by finishing third in their heat.

They have been drawn in Lane Seven, next to fellow Africans, South Africa, who are in Lane Eight.

The other qualifiers are Great Britain, Germany, Russia, Jamaica, USA and Belgium.

South Africa’s team has attracted a great deal of interest here thanks to the heroics of ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius, a member of the team who runs with prosthetic (artificial) legs.

“We are delighted to make the final,” Commonwealth champion Mark Mutai said after anchoring the Kenya team to third place in the second semi-final yesterday, which was good enough for an automatic place in the final.

“Our aim was to qualify for the final and we will now sit down with our coaches and see how we can improve and get into the medal bracket. Our strategy was to be in the top three and qualify.”

Kenya clocked a season’s best – three minutes, 0.97 seconds – for their straight qualification from the second semi while South Africa qualified third from the first in a national record of 2:59.21.

Earlier, Kenya’s trio of Eliud Kipchoge, Isaiah Kiplangat Koech and Thomas Longosiwa coasted into the final of the 5,000m under sweltering conditions that saw temperatures rise to 34 degrees.

Sunday is 5,000m, 800m finals

Also looking strong in the qualifying races on Thursday were former Kenyan Bernard Lagat of USA, Britain’s ex-Somali Mo Farah and Ethiopia’s Imane Merga.

Farah and Merga are doubling, having featured in the 10,000m final last Sunday where the former settled for silver while the latter won bronze, behind gold medallist Ibrahim Jeilan of Ethiopia.

“I’ve never run under such hot conditions before but we will all run under the same conditions in the final,” said Kipchoge, World champion in 2003 at the Stade de France, Saint Denis, on the outskirts of Paris.

Earlier, 2007 World champion Janeth Jepkosgei, Eunice Sum and Cherono Koech sailed into the 800m final unscathed.

The women’s two-lap race and the men’s 5,000m finals will be run on the last day of competition, on Sunday.

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