IN RIO DE JANEIRO
Africa 400m hurdles champion Boniface Mucheru on Thursday made history after becoming the first Kenyan to win an Olympic medal in 400m hurdles when he claimed silver at the Rio Olympic Games.
Mucheru narrowly missed out on the gold but settled for silver with a season best and national record time of 47.78.
Mucheru came agonisingly close to replicating what his training partner Nicholas Bett did a year ago by clinching the World Championships title, only to come short against Kerron Clement of the USA who won in 47.73.
The third place went to Turkey's Yasmani Copello - who crossed the finish line in 47.92 - while Kenya's other finalist Haron Koech finished seventh in 49.09.
The race got off to a false start which forced the judges to disqualify a tearful Javier Culson of Puerto Rico for taking off before the gun.
But when things finally got going, Mucheru and Koech, running in lane seven and eight respectively, started at a sizzling pace and were both ahead at the 300m mark before Koech lost steam as Clement closed in and eventually got past Mucheru who pushed him all the way to the finish line.
"My strategy ahead of the race was to relax and hold the tension. My only fault was missing the eighth hurdle. Otherwise, I would have won the race," Mucheru said.
"But I'm very happy to have won this medal. It's something I'll cherish for the rest of my life. It's not just a win for me but for Kenya as a whole," he added.
On his fast time, Mucheru said that only unfolded in the course of the race.
"I didn't set a target for the time I intended to post. My only aim was to get to the medal bracket," he said.
His teammate, Koech was also content with his performance saying he hoped to improve on it in next year's World Championships in London.
"What unsettled me was that false start, but I'm thankful to God that I competed at the Olympics and reached the final," Koech said.
It was a happy ending for the Kenyan hurdler in an event that the country had never won any medal in at the Olympics before Mucheru's achievement.
The disappointing manner in which Bett had exited the Games at the heats stage seemed to have given the two Kenyan runners the extra motivation to come out with something.