NAIROBI, Kenya — Host nation Kenya won gold and bronze in the 10,000 meters race at the start of the African Athletics Championships on Wednesday.
Wilson Kiprop won gold in a time of 27 minutes, 32.91 seconds and Geoffrey Mutai took bronze 27:33.83. Hopes of a clean sweep were thwarted by Uganda’s Moses Ndiema Kipsiro, who won the silver in 27:33.37 after a close contest to the finish.
The medalists took advantage of the absence of world and Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele, who is injured.
Kipsiro said his strategy was to keep up with the Kenyans who broke away from the main pack in the 14th lap.
“I was just keeping my energy to finish the race,” he said. “It was a tough race. Kenyans had a lot of morale because they are at their home ground.”
Ethiopia is expected to rival Kenya for medals in the middle and long-distance races.
The Ethiopian squad features Tirunesh Dibaba, the Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 gold medalist, who will compete over the shorter distance. It also includes the 2008 world indoor champion at 3,000, Tariku Bekele, the younger brother of Kenenisa, and who will race in the 5,000.
More than 700 athletes are taking part in the event representing 53 African countries.
The championships began under tight security following bomb attacks earlier this month in neighboring Uganda that killed 76 people watching the World Cup final on television on July 11.
Spectators at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi were put through body searches and scans, while uniformed and plain clothes police patrolled the venue.
The opening day also saw heats in the men’s and women’s 100 which were dominated by the Nigerians, who are expected to win the events despite the absence of Olusoji Fasuba, the men’s African record holder.