Athletics: Kenyans mar historic day

Javelin thrower Julius Yego wins running powerhouse Kenya's first-ever world title in a field event. The Czech Zuzana Hejnova is the first woman to retain her 400m hurdles title. Wayde van Niekerk runs the fastest 400m since 2007 to become the first
Javelin thrower Julius Yego wins running powerhouse Kenya's first-ever world title in a field event.
Javelin thrower Julius Yego wins running powerhouse Kenya's first-ever world title in a field event. The Czech Zuzana Hejnova is the first woman to retain her 400m hurdles title. Wayde van Niekerk runs the fastest 400m since 2007 to become the first
The Czech Zuzana Hejnova is the first woman to retain her 400m hurdles title.
Javelin thrower Julius Yego wins running powerhouse Kenya's first-ever world title in a field event. The Czech Zuzana Hejnova is the first woman to retain her 400m hurdles title. Wayde van Niekerk runs the fastest 400m since 2007 to become the first
Wayde van Niekerk runs the fastest 400m since 2007 to become the first South African to win a world sprint title.

Two women test positive as three events at World Championships see new firsts

BEIJING • A trio of historic performances at the Bird's Nest stadium yesterday was overshadowed by the first two positive drugs tests at athletics' World Championships.

With the meet already taking place under a cloud of doping allegations in the sport, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced that two Kenyan runners were provisionally suspended for testing positive for drugs in Beijing.

Joyce Zakary, 29, and Koki Manunga, 21, who competed in the women's 400m and women's 400m hurdles respectively, had undergone "targeted tests" by athletics' world governing body.

They were tested pre-competition at their team hotel last Thursday and Friday.

Zakary set a national record of 50.71sec in the 400m heats on Monday. But she did not start in her scheduled semi-final on Tuesday, reported the BBC.

Manunga finished sixth in her 400m hurdles heat with a time of 58.96.

Reports in Kenya have suggested both tested positive for a masking agent for an unknown substance.

"Athletics Kenya has already met with the Iaaf and the athletes involved and has begun investigating the situation which led to these results," said the national governing body. "Follow-up action will be taken in Kenya."

Earlier this month, the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) announced it would begin an "urgent" investigation into allegations of widespread doping in athletics after Britain's The Sunday Times published data from 5,000 athletes, which it says reveals an "extraordinary extent of cheating".

And just this week, German broadcaster ARD claimed some Kenyan athletes were warned before the unannounced doping tests and alleged a banned runner accused athletics officials of demanding money to hide positive tests.

In the last three years, 33 Kenyans have failed drugs tests.

Kenya currently lead the medal tally with with six golds, with Julius Yego yesterday winning the javelin event with a monster 92.72m throw in a dramatic men's final.

It was the third-longest throw of all time and the longest since Jan Zelezny threw 92.80 in 2001. The Czech also holds the world record of 98.48, set in 1996.

Yego's efforts ensured that Kenya, a nation noted more for its distance-running prowess, won a world title in a field event for the first time.

In the next event, Zuzana Hejnova became the first woman to retain her 400m hurdles title after 14 editions. The Czech produced a dominating performance to come home two metres clear of Shamier Little, the United States champion, in a world leading 53.50.

In the men's 400m, Wayde van Niekerk ran the fastest lap since 2007 to become the first South African to win a world sprint title.

The 23-year-old went hard from the start and held off a quality field, including reigning champion LaShawn Merritt of the United States, to claim gold in 43.48.

A personal best of 43.65 was worth no better than silver for Merritt, who stayed on the South African's shoulder around the final bend but could not find enough gas in the last 50m to overhaul him.

Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada finished third to claim bronze in 43.78, his best run of the year.

Meanwhile, Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin ensured there will be plenty to look forward to today after they ran the fastest times of the 200m semi-finals to set up a mouthwatering second sprint showdown.

Gatlin, a two-times doping offender looking to avenge his defeat by Bolt in the weekend's 100m, clocked the fastest time of the semi-finals in 19.87. Bolt was second fastest in 19.95 going into today's dust-up.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'Kenyans mar historic day'. Print Edition | Subscribe