Kenyan accused of age cheat, wins 5,000m at nationals

Thomas Longosiwa, convicted last year for falsifying his age to gain a place on the junior team, was a surprise winner in Saturday's men's 5,000m race on the final day of the national championships, also trials for All Africa Games in Algiers next month.

The 20-year old Longosiwa beat a strong field of athletes including former 4km world champion, John Kibowen, to finish in a time of 13:49.6 after a last-gasp sprint that more experienced rivals Mark Kiptoo and Kiprono Menjo could not match.

Longosiwa said he had put aside the events of last year and looks forward to winning a gold medal at the Pan-Africa Games to be held in Algeria next month.

"It is by the grace of God that I won today (Saturday). He has favored me by letting me cross the finish line first," said Longosiwa. "I am ready to prove to the world that all I want to do in life at the moment is running. I have no job so this is my office."

The Kenyan runner was charged with forging documents bearing his age to compete with the Kenyan team in the World Junior Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, last August where he finished 13th.

When he was arrested last month, police found two passports, one giving his date of birth as Jan. 14, 1982, and the other as May 14, 1988 and was fined 1,500 US dollars.

Longosiwa, in tears, was held for several days and arraigned in court but was later released.

"I have forgotten all that. Even the Bible says forgive them for they don't know what they are doing. Whether I was framed or was betrayed by a close friend, I don't want to know," he said.

"My faith was reinvigorated after that sad incident and I am now a born-again Christian."

The juniors who ran for Kenya at the world championships in Beijing, of which team Longosiwa was initially a member, even if it was just for a few days, stated their case clearly.

They will be the runners to beat in Beijing next year when they make a return to the Chinese capital, this time for the big one, the Olympic Games.

Longosiwa said his coach, former three-time world 3,000m steeplechase champion Moses Kiptanui, had prepared him well for the race which was held in Nairobi.

"I am happy to have won and made the team for the All Africa Games," he said.

Richard Matelong of Kenya Police appeared to dominate the race in the early stages, but fell out and was not even among the top 10 finishers.

Mark Kiptoo of Armed Forces was second with a time of 13:50.0. Team-mate Kiprono Menjo was third after clocking 13:50.1.

Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion, Ezekiel Kemboi, won his specialty in a time of 8:26.2 and team-mate Willy Komen was second timed 8:26.5 while Elijah Chelimo crossed the finish line third with a time of 8:29.4.

"My target is not so much the All Africa Games, but the World Championships in Osaka. I was using today's race to gain speed," said Kemboi.

The women's 5,000m final produced the day's upset with little known Sylvia Kibet winning in a time of 16:05.67.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---