Korir, Rotich lift Kenyan Olympics gloom with one-two in 800m

Kenya's Emmanuel Korir won the Olympic 800m title from compatriot Ferguson Rotich. AFP/Jewel Samad

TOKYO - Kenya's Emmanuel Korir won the men's 800 metres Olympic title on Wednesday with compatriot Ferguson Rotich taking silver to put some gloss on their country's disappointing athletics medal haul at this Games. 

Korir timed 1min 45.06sec with Rotich finishing in 1:45.23 while Poland's Patryk Dobek took the bronze in 1:45.39.

Korir succeeds fellow Kenyan and two-time champion David Rudisha, who was unable to defend his title due to injury. Wilfried Bungei also won the title for Kenya at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Kenyans have not been at their best in Tokyo, even seeing their stranglehold on the men's 3,000m steeplechase dating back to 1984 broken by Morocco's Soufiane el Bakkali.

Silver medallist Rotich said the disappointing results were understandable given the difficulties Kenyan athletes had faced preparing for the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"In Kenya we are progressing despite the challenges of the pandemic," he said. 

"In the last year, most of us, we didn't train well. There was the coronavirus and now we're coming back.

"Maybe by next year we'll be able to win more medals for our country."

Korir said his success was rich compensation after he failed to reach the final at successive major championships. 

"This is a big thing for me after failing to qualify for the final in the 2017 and 2019 world championships. But today is my day," he said.


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