More often than not, Kenya is known around the world as a giant at distance running but it appears Samuel Kireri Gathimba has paved the way for future success in race walking.
Gathimba claims Kenya's first-ever medal at Race Walking Team Championships
History made! Congratulations Samuel Gathimba
On Saturday, March 5 Gathimba finished third behind Japanese duo Toshikazu Yamanishi and Koki Ikeda to claim Kenya's first-ever medal at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships.
At the finish line, the 34-year-old known as ‘Speedy’ was the epitome of athletics joy as he raised his arms to heaven and then beat them in excitement on the tarmac having sunk to his knees in gratitude.
Yamanishi, world champion in Doha in 2019 and bronze at the Tokyo Games, won with a time of 1:22.52, ahead of his compatriot, Olympic runner-up this year Ikeda (1:23.29), and finally Gathimba (1:23.52.).
The world champion saw off the defending World Race Walking Team Championships winner Ikeda shortly before 11km with a decisive move up the hill on a testing course.
Behind them, an impressive battle for third was a real race for more than half the distance. A chasing group of six then fell apart at 14km, leaving Australian Declan Tingay and Gathimba chasing bronze. Tingay sensed Ikeda was struggling and upped his effort.
Unfortunately for the man who was 17th at the Olympics and then scored a PB of 1:20:44 in February, also caught the judges’ attention. He was to serve a two-minute penalty less than 100m from the finish but had already been passed by Gathimba.
Sadly for Gathimba, compatriots Simeon Wachira and Samson Dominic Ndigiti finished 33rd and 43rd respectively.