Man-of-the-moment Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku has said his recent exploits on the track that have seen him win five major titles this year will not make him lose focus ahead of the new season.
Mwangangi has had a five-star performance this season which he capped up by strolling home to win the coveted Continental Cup 3,000m crown on Sunday in Marrakech. Earlier on this year, the 21-year-old athlete bagged the World indoor Champion 3000m title then won the Commonwealth Games and Africa 5000m gold medals in August before taking home the 2014 Diamond League 5,000m trophy.
“I have a lot is on my plate at the moment but I am not forgetting what is ahead of me next year and the year after,” said Mwangangi after winning the Continental Cup 3,000m title on Sunday in Marrakech, Morocco.
“It all started in March when I won the World Indoor title. But I always remember that winning is not everything, but wanting to win is what matters,” explained Mwangangi, who thanked everyone who has been supported him.
Mwangangi’s ultimate dream is to capture the World next year and the Olympic gold medal in 2016 from Briton Mo Farah. “Mo could have avoided me at the Commonwealth Games and Continental Cup but it won't be for long,” said Mwangangi.
On Sunday night, the 21-year-old Mwangangi controlled much of the race, before powering away from Azerbaijani Hayle Ibrahimov down the home stretch to take the win unchallenged in 7:52.64. European silver medallist Ibrahimov gave chase and his persistence awarded with a runner-up place in 7:53.14. Defending champion Bernard Lagat finished third for Americas in 7:53.95.
“The forest has a new king now and the Buffalo’s footprints are still wet,” said Mwangangi . “I attribute this victory to God, commitment, discipline and listening to the coaches,” said the World Indoor 3,000m champion.
Mwangangi and Jairus Birech (3,000m steeplechase) could have wrapped up what has been a successful season with Continental Cup victories but the night belonged to Boniface Mucheru, who guided Africa team to 4x400m relay victory.
Mucheru started the battle for Africa, taking off the blocks first before South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk anchored in perfect style bringing the small Grande Stade crowd to their feet.
Van Niekerk held off the challenge of Europe’s Martyn Rooney to stop the clock at 3:00.02, Africa’s quickest time at a Continental Cup, with Rooney was just eight hundredths behind in second place, confirming Europe as the 2014 Continental Cup champions.
Africa and Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion Joyce Chepkirui settled for an impressive second in women’s 5,000m behind winner Almaz Ayana.
World 1,500m bronze medallists Hellen Obiri, who is also the Africa champion, and Commonwealth and Africa javelin champion Julius Yego finished fourth in their respective events.
AFRICA IN THIRD POSITION
Mucheru shared US$30,000 (Sh2.64 million) with his five teammates same as Mwangangi and Birech, who won 3,000m and 3,000m steeplechase respectively.
Kenyan athletes pocketed a total of Sh16million in the championship also known as the World Cup. This is after Eunice Sum (800m) and Isaiah Kiplangat (5,000m) also won their races the previous night with Asbel Kiprop (1,500m) finishing second and Janet Kisa fourth in 3,000m.
Africa, with 339 points, finished third behind winners Europe (447.5) and the Americas (390).
The men’s 4x400m race was meant to be an assured win for the American team that had former Olympics and two-time world champion LaShawn Merritt plus Olympic silver medallist Leguelin Santos and relay specialist Chris Brown of the Bahamas.
Veteran sprinter Kim Collins, who was drafted in as a late replacement for US champion Gil Roberts, proved to be the weak link in the team despite Merritt’s best efforts on the last leg for a distant third place finish in 3:02.78.