DOHA Dozens of African running fans lined Doha's
seafront to glimpse their countrymen vie for gold in the World Athletics
Championships men's marathon, singing loudly and brandishing national flags.
At the halfway point, all six of the leaders were from Africa, and
Ethiopians were first and second across the line while a Kenyan picked up
bronze following the midnight event.
We just came here to celebrate our athletes, from Laban Korir on, they're
our Kenyans! We want to make them feel at home, said Cornelius Bor ahead of
the race which finished in the early hours of Sunday.
Bor's friend Elliot Kirwa, a runner turned security officer, said we are
supposed to sleep, we are supposed to go to work but we had to come and
My duty is 4:00 a.m. but I will first finish watching them, then I will
go there and I'm so happy, so proud of them, added Bor who then chanted
one, two, three Kenya!.
(On Sunday) we have 10,000m, Julius Yego in the javelin. He will clear
Nearby another group of men chanted and danced in unison, draping the
Kenyan colours over an advertising hoarding.
Kenya's Amos Kipruto, who won bronze, told AFP his countrymen gave me
This medal I dedicate to all my fans in Doha, he said. When I win,
Many other migrant workers turned out in force to support runners from
their native countries at the event which saw Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa win
gold in two hours 10 minutes 40 seconds.
'We feel at home'
Kenyans make up roughly 30,000 of Qatar's 2.6 million population and are
often employed as security guards while Ethiopians number around 25,000
according to official statistics.
Kenyans were among a number of nations whose embassies in Doha handed out
free tickets to their citizens following dismal crowds in the championships'
We feel at home, said Bor, a security officer.
Even more African supporters would have been able to attend if not for the
tournament's late start times, often after 10:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) for finals,
according to some diaspora members.
They put it at night and guys are working. At night time I don't think
they made it. A few people (did), but not too much, said Wilson Mwenji, a
former runner from Nairobi resident in Doha for four years, as he prepared to
watch the women's marathon on September 27.
But Mercy, another Kenyan living in Qatar, said the championships had been
very well organised as she walked past the main track venue, Doha's Khalifa
I love the fact that it is in the city and security is very amazing too.
Kenya have been doing great, we got a gold medal for the men's 3,000m
steeplechase, she told AFP. It's been great.
International Association of Athletics Federations president Sebastian Coe
has said he wants to ensure athletics are not just rooted in a handful of
European capitals but the flagship event has never been staged in Africa.
Athletics and road races in particular are hugely popular on the continent
and have fewer barriers to entry compared to other sports.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)