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Africans Have Golden Day in Osaka Athletics


Two Africans and an American have captured gold medals on the first day of the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan. As VOA's David Byrd reports, Luke Kibet of Kenya, Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba and American Reese Hoffa were winners.

Kibet finished the 42.195-kilometer race in 2:15:59 seconds. The Kenyan is the first men's marathon world champion from his country in 20 years. Kibet said that his victory was driven by a promise he made before coming to Osaka.

"I'm happy, because it is a long time for Kenya to get a gold in marathon," he said. "But when I came from Kenya I told them 'we are going and I will try to get a gold in marathon.' But I am happy because I have won."

Qatar's Mubarak Hassan Shami took silver, one minute, 19 seconds back with Switzerland's Viktor Roethlin taking the bronze.

In the men's shot put, American Reese Hoffa, won the gold medal with a toss of 22 meters, four cm. American Adam Nelson won the silver while Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus took bronze.

Hoffa says he was relieved when the competition was finally over.

"I know there is a lot of expectation on myself being the world number one, and having the best throw in the world, and pretty much a big expectation to throw it 22 meters," he said. "I am just glad I could execute and win."

Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba won the women's 10,000 meters title with a season's best time of 31:55.41 seconds. Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse won the silver with American Kara Goucher taking the bronze.

At one point the Ethiopian looked like she would drop out because of stomach trouble, but was able to regain her form and eventually sprinted to the win. Speaking through a translator, Dibaba said she could not let down her country.

"Yes, I almost interrupted the race, but because I am representing my country, I just hung in there, but I was feeling very sick," she said.

Three more gold medals are up for grabs on Sunday in the women's shot put, the men's 20-kilometer walk and the marquee sprint event, the men's 100-meters.

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