Kenya’s quest for gold began in earnest when Samwel Mushai and his guide James Boit blazed their way to the gold in the 1,500m T11 on Monday evening and continued Tuesday night with Abraham Tarbei’s triumph in the race’s T46 category.
In the 1,500m of the T13 class for visually impaired athletes, Kenya’s David Korir won silver behind Morocco’s Zhiou Abderrahim who won gold in a world record 3:48.31.
Korir took the silver in 3:48.84, also inside the old world record, while Kenya’s team captain Henry Kirwa was fifth in a personal best 3:53.55.
Great Britain’s Devine David took bronze in a regional record 3:49.79. While the 22-two-year-old Mushai took the gold when he turned on a ferocious kick in the last 200 metres, beating Brazil’s Odair Santos and his guide by more than three seconds with a time of 3:58.37, a new world record, Tarbei also did not disappoint.
Clean African sweep
On Tuesday night, he increased Kenya’s tally by winning the T46 (for track and field amputees) also in a new world record time of 3:50.15, leading a clean African sweep that saw Ethiopia’s Indelbu Wondiye Fikre (3:50.87, personal best) take silver and Algeria’s Samor Nouioua take bronze also in a personal best 3:51.80.
The other Kenyans - Jonah Chesum (4:00.38) and Stanley Cheruiyot (4:02.54) - finished seventh and 11th respectively.
Mary Nakhumicha failed to make the final of the F57 discus throw, finishing 12th with 17.53 metres, but her best event, the javelin, is yet to come.
Kenya now has two gold medals (Muchai, Tarbei), one silver (Korir) and a bronze (Henry Kirwa).
“I’m grateful to God... it was my ambition all along to win, break the world record and bring the gold medal to Kenya,” said Tarbei.
Olympics and Paralympics
“It’s my ambition now to run in both the Olympic Games and Paralympics in 2016, probably in the 5,000 metres. I dedicate my medal to my fellow Kenyans wife and daughter.”
At one point, Tarbei was under pressure from Algeria’s Nouioua who ran him close in the final lap. “I was careful about him because I know they (north Africans) can be very, very tough, but I was ready for him,” Tarbei said.
Pacesetter Muchai always knew he would strike at the right moment in Monday’s final of the T11 class for athletes with 100 percent visual impairment.
“‘It is now time to kick off,’” is what Boit said he shouted to Mushai at the 200m mark. After that move, the race was decided.
Mushai became the first man in his visually impaired classification to go under the four-minute barrier in a Paralympic competition. He dedicated his win to his country and family.
As winners of gold medals, Mushai and Tarbei will receive at least Sh2 million each, Sh1 million from the government and another million from Safaricom Limited although having broken the world record, they may get their Safaricom incentive doubled as was the case with Olympic champion David Rudisha who broke the 800m world record.