With the obvious exception of one Usain Bolt — the living legend from Jamaica who landed in Beijing, China, for this year’s biggest track and field meet under a cloud of doubt and left undefeated with three gold medals — the story of the 2015 IAAF World Championships was the Kenyan national team.
A country with a population of approximately 44.2 million people closed the nine-day event (Aug. 22-30) tied with Jamaica for the most gold medals (seven) and finished second to the United States in total medals, claiming 16 medals versus 18 for the U.S. By the way, the U.S. has a population of about 319 million people. And while Kenya is historically expected to dominate distance running events, Kenya showed its versatility in Beijing by winning gold in the sprints (men’s 400-meter hurdles) and throws (men’s javelin).
It was an overall performance that may have shocked the sports world, but three-time men’s 1,500-meter world champion Asbel Kiprop kind of predicted this about a month before the championships:
Islam is the second-largest religion in Kenya, with an estimated 11 percent of the total population identifying as Muslim. That’s about 4.8 million Muslims in Africa’s seventh-largest country.
While none of Kenya’s medalists at these World Championships are known Muslims, there was still a notable Muslim presence on the medal stand — a group of athletes who can take this winning momentum into preparations for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil:
5,000 meters (gold)
10,000 meters (gold)
Farah captured gold in his two signature events for the third straight time in track’s last three major outdoor championships, dating back to the 2012 Olympics in London.
On the opening night of the 2015 worlds, Farah won the 10,000-meter race in 27:01.13, navigating a trio of Kenyan runners who had openly planned to cooperate to beat him, some slow-moving lapped runners in his path, and a potentially disastrous stumble on the last lap.
On the second-to-last night of competition, the 32-year-old Farah had a much less treacherous experience in the 5,000 meters. He calmly ran in the back of the pack for a while — even taking a quick detour for a drink of water during the race — easily advanced toward the front, then dashed past Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku in the final 200 meters to win comfortably in 13:50.38.
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