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Sporting moments that defined the decade – PHOTOS

Kenya’s reputation as a sporting giant was rubber stamped during the decade, as the country embraced success and relevance at almost every turn. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Kipchoge’s INEOS record

Eluid Kipchoge made history as the first athlete to ever run a 42km marathon in less than two hours. He achieved the feat in Vienna, Austria this year, clocking a 1:59.40 timing in a record that had all eyes trained on both the marathoner and his country of birth. The performance also earned the athlete a Head of State Commendation, several awards and honourary doctorate degrees.

Eliud Kipchoge crossing the line. PHOTO | INEOS

2. McDonald Mariga wins the UEFA Champions League

For all her sporting prowess, Kenya has always come short on the football pitch. But there was a ray of hope in 2010 when Kenyan star McDonald Mariga was signed by famed coach Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan in 2010. Months later, Mariga became the first-ever East African footballer to win the prestigious UEFA Champions League while playing alongside the world’s established stars including Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito, Lucio, and Marco Materazzi.

3. Victor Wanyama signs for English Premier League club

Mariga’s achievement catapulted a positive reaction of sorts. Soon thereafter, his brother Victor Wanyama signed for Southampton and later on Tottenham Hotspur in 2016. The EPL is the most-watched football league in Kenya, and the world. So, Wanyama’s emergence literally introduced Kenyan football to the international stage.

Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama moments after penning a five year deal with Tottenham Hotspurs. PHOTO | COURTESY
Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama moments after penning a five year deal with Tottenham Hotspurs. PHOTO | COURTESY

4. Harambee Stars qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

Kenya’s national football team qualified for the continental football showpiece after missing out of seven editions over 15 years. The emergence of Kenya among 13-other teams at the tournament in Egypt, and, listening to the Kenya national anthem at the tournament was an exciting, emotional and historic venture.

Kenyan defender Joseph Okumu (centre) attempts to block a shot from Senegalese forward M'baye Diagne during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group C match at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo, Egypt on July 1, 2019. AFP PHOTO
Kenyan defender Joseph Okumu (centre) attempts to block a shot from Senegalese forward M’baye Diagne during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group C match at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo, Egypt on July 1, 2019. AFP PHOTO

5. Kenya 7s triumph

The Kenya national sevens rugby team won its first international title, beating Fiji 30-7 to win the Singapore Series. It took Kenya 140 tournaments to break the duck and the feat was so encouraging and exciting to both President Uhuru Kenyatta, himself an ex-rugby player, and the rest of the country.

Kenya sevens rugby team players celebrate with the Main Cup trophy after beating Fiji 30-7 in the final of the Singapore Sevens tournament.
Kenya sevens rugby team players celebrate with the Main Cup trophy after beating Fiji 30-7 in the final of the Singapore Sevens tournament.

6. David Rudisha breaks two world records in a week

In 2010, the 800m star runner underlined Kenya’s prowess in athletics by twice breaking the race record inside a week.

Kenya’s David Rudisha poses for photographers after winning the men’s 800m competition during the ISTAF (Internationales Stadionfest) IAAF World Challenge on August 22, 2010 in Berlin. He set a new world record. PHOTO | AFP