Kenya’s gallant team to the World Championships in Athletics arrives back home on Tuesday from Daegu where they conjured up the country’s best ever performance at the biennial championships.
The team won seven gold medals, six silver and four bronze at the nine-day championships.
A lean squad will touch down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 12.35pm today on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha where they connected their flight from Seoul’s Incheon Airport.
Many of the medallists will travel directly from Doha to Zurich, Switzerland, to compete in the IAAF Diamond League and move on to Brussels before returning to Nairobi.
Overall team captain Richard Mateelong said he was happy to have led “the best team ever” to these championships and although he was disappointed for failing to get a medal, the Africa steeplechase star left Daegu a proud man.
“My happiness is beyond compare, having seen what this team has done. This is the best team ever,” said Mateelong before the athletes boarded their bus to Incheon, a five-hour drive from Daegu.
They were accompanied by Athletics Kenya officials Jack Tuwei (vice chairman) and treasurer Joseph Kinyua.
“We are very proud with what this team has done and now we must consolidate this performance,” said Kinyua. Hellen Obiri, who was tripped in the final of the 1,500 metres, was on her first major outing and leaves Daegu with lessons learnt.
“I have learnt many things here and I’m not disappointed,” said Obiri, Kenya’s national champion and the only finalist in the race here.
The coaches, led by Peter Mathu, were quite satisfied with former New York Marathon champion Ibrahim Hussein, AK’s assistant secretary, saying selector will have a hard task ahead of next year’s London Olympics.
Daegu residents turned up in large numbers to see the athletes off, with the Brazilian national team leaving at the same time with the Kenyans, boasting of one gold medal won by rising women’s pole vaulter Fabiana Murer.