Deaflympics: Wandia for gold as Omari and wangeci settles for bronze in steeplechase

Lucas Wandia defended his Deaflympic Games 3,000m steeplechase title at the ongoing Deaflympic Games in Brazil.

The Kenya team captain won the title as he plans to win another medal in 5,000m race with his third gold medal for Kenya at the Sesi Centro Esportivo Athletics Track.

Wandia led Kenya’s position 1 and 3 with Peter Omari settling for bronze and Anne Wangeci winning another bronze for Kenya in the women’s steeplechase respectively.

“During the national trials in Nairobi, I also competed in the 5000m but I did not qualify. At the next Deaflympics, I hope I will be competing in the 5000m too,” said Wandia.

In the men’s Steeplechase, the 33-year-old led from the lights to finish, winning in nine minutes, 19.27 seconds.

Hopes for a Kenyan 1-2 finish dashed away after Omari fell, German Alexander Bley cashing in on to bag silver in 9:25.86.

But with Omari determined to get a medal in the competition, he continued with the race amid pain, finishing third in 9:30.13.

“I have been to the Deaflympics before and it was not easy, so I want to thank God for this win. We had planned to work as a team to win the top medals but my colleague (Omari) got injured so we did not achieve that but it is the nature of sports,” said Wandia, who dedicated the medal to his mother.

He asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to consider increasing the Sh10million pledge since they are certain of winning more medals.

Omari said: “I got injured, so I was in a lot of pain. I could also not see well because the floodlights were disturbing my eyes. In Turkey (2013 Deaflympics), I never won a medal, same to Poland (2021 World Deaf Athletics Championships), so I am very happy to get bronze in Brazil. Next time I know I will do better.”

With the women’s event having attracted only four entrants, hopes were high that  Kenyans Wangeci and Sarah Wasike would deliver gold and silver medals.

But they surrendered the lead immediately to Sara-Elise Ruokonen of Finland and Emily Wilson of the United States.

The Kenyans looked exhausted as they chased the leaders at a distance, before Wasike bowed out after a fall, leaving Wangeci to settle for bronze in 12:12.02.

Ruokonen won in 10:54.53 ahead of Wilson who timed 11:32.17. Wangeci was over the moon after bagging the bronze since it was her first time competing in steeplechase after abandoning the walk race.

“With this being the first time I am competing in steeplechase, I can honestly say that I performed well. I will do better next time,” said Wangeci. She said she abandoned walk race since it is not among the competitions in Deaflympics.

It was also a good day for Kenya, as Isaac Tongi (men’s 400m hurdles), Beryl Wamira (women’s 200m), Elijah Muyekho (men’s 200m), Walter Kalebu (men’s 200m), Linet Fwamba (women’s 200m), Symon Kibai (men’s 5000m), Ian Wambui (men’s 5000m), Dickson Rawino (men’s 110m hurdles decathlon), and Elijah Rono (men’s 800m) all progressed to the next round of their respective competitions.

Fwamba, Wamira, Kalebu, Rawino and Muyekho were Friday set to battle it out in semi-finals in different heats while Tongi, Kibai, Wambui and Rono progressed to the finals of their respective races.

With a total of 14 medals (three gold, four silver and seven bronze), Kenya remained 12th on the medal table

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