Cuban Council of Minister vice president in Kenya for ACP Summit

The vice president of the Council of Ministers of Cuba, Ines Maria Chapman, arrived in Kenya on Sunday to participate in the Summit of the Association of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP).

Chapman and her delegation will represent Cuba in the 9th edition of the meeting, which will open on Monday and will take place for two days, with participation of a score of heads of State and Government.

Upon arrival, she was welcomed by Kenya's permanent representative before the United Nations Human Settlement Program, Njambi Kinyungu.

The Cuban delegation also includes the Sub-Saharan Africa director at the

Foreign Ministry, Gisela Garcia; Ambassador to Kenya Ernesto Gomez, and the deputy director of International Economic Agencies at the Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Ministry, Pedro Pablo San Jorge. On Monday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will assume the three-year presidency of the ACP, whose 8th Summit was held in Papua New Guinea in 2016.

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Cuba participates in International Conference on Population in Kenya

Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca spoke today with representatives from Syria and Venezuela in the context of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25), which is taking place in this capital.

'We had a friendly meeting with the Venezuelan Minister for Women's Issues (Asia Villega), an area in which we will develop cooperation, especially with regard to personnel training and sexual and reproductive health,' Malmierca noted on Twitter.

The Cuban official also met with the head of Social and Labor Affairs of Syria, Rima Qadiri.

Speaking yesterday in the general debate of the ICPD25, Malmierca highlighted the achievements of his country in terms of population and development.

He noted the role of Cuban women and the country's reproductive health system, despite the US blockade.

As part of the activities, Malmierca announced a working meeting with Kenyan Health Minister Sicily K, Kariuki, to examine 'bilateral cooperation in health matters.'

He also spoke with the Algerian Health Minister Miraoui Mohammed, who co-chairs the Intergovernmental Cooperation Commission.

ICPD25 aims to examine the progress made since a 1994 Program of Action drafted in Cairo, and signed at that time by 150 countries.

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Cuban President Meets with Relatives of Kidnapped Doctor

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel met on Wednesday in the city of Santa Clara with the family of Dr. Landy Rodriguez, one of two doctors kidnapped in Kenya.

We express our sympathy and affection in such a difficult situation,' the head of State wrote on Twitter, where he also posted a picture of the meeting.

Diaz-Canel asked for support for Rodriguez's family, which he described as 'hardworking and humble'.

The Cuban Government has repeated its tireless and coordinated work with Kenya and Somalia for the return of Rodriguez and Doctor Assel Herrera.

In April, the Cuban Ministry of Public Health reported the kidnapping of Herrera, a specialist in General Integral Medicine, and Rodriguez, a surgeon, who were serving in Mandera County, Kenya.

Cuba's medical collaboration with the African nation began in June last year with the participation of 101 doctors.

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Cuba in Permanent Contact with Kenya over Kidnappings of Doctors

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez ratified that Cuba is in a permanent contact with the Government of Kenya regarding the kidnappings of Cuban Doctors Assel Herrera and Landy Rodriguez in that African country.

The head of Cuban diplomacy said on Twitter that Kenyan authorities are making their biggest efforts in that delicate affair.

He added that the relatives of the two collaborators are being informed about their situation and a governmental contact group is working on this situation.

Previously, the Cuban Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) had informed about the kidnappings of the two physicians, who were rendering their services in the county of Mandera, in Kenya. The Ministry said that Assel Herrera is a specialist in Integral General Medicine from eastern Las Tunas province, while Landy Rodriguez is a surgeon from central Villa Clara.

Cuba's medical collaboration in Kenya started in June 2018 and involves some 101 physicians.

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Eliud Kipchoge smashes marathon record in Berlin as four other runners post record times

Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge has made history after setting a new fastest marathon time of 2 hours 1 minute and 39 seconds at the BMW Berlin Marathon.

The 33-year-old shaved more than a minute off of the previous marathon world record of 2:02:57 which was set by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto four years ago, also in Berlin.

Eliud Kipchoge

His amazing achievement on Sunday (16 September) of course means he now holds the Guinness World Records title for Fastest marathon (male), as well as the Fastest time to run the Berlin marathon (male).

Kipchoge's fantastic time means the elusive sub-two hour marathon is now within tantalising reach. In 2017 he 
clocked 2:00:25 but this attempt was not classed as an official attempt due to the use of in-out pacemakers. 

However he can add his new record in Berlin to his three other Guinness World Records titles: Fastest time to run the London Marathon (male) with a time of 02:03:05; Fastest road run 30 kilometres (male) with a time of 01:27:13 and Most wins of the London Marathon by an individual (male) with three, shared with António Pinto (Portugal), Dionicio Cerón (Mexico) and Martin Lel (Kenya).

But on top of Kipchoge's time, four other Guinness World Records titles were set at the Berlin Marathon.

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KENYA TAKES SIX MORE TITLES AS AFRICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS CONCLUDE IN ASABA

Kenya captured six more titles on Sunday (5) to claim bragging rights as the winningest squad in Africa as the 21st edition of the continent's championships concluded in Asaba, Nigeria.

Competing before another raucous near-capacity crowd at the Stephen Keshi Memorial Stadium, Kenya took home titles on the track and on the field on the final day of competition to up their gold medal haul to 11.

Many of those were delivered in most impressive fashion, beginning with the women’s steeplechase where freshly-minted world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, clearly in the rarest of forms, led a medal sweep for the east African powerhouse. The 27-year-old dominated the race en route to an 8:59.88 run, near the top of the short list of fastest un-paced performances in history.

As the field, led by three Kenyans, approached the end of the opening lap, Chepkoech said she had to make a choice: to decide with medal was hers. As she broke away and turned the race into a solo exhibition, her decision became obvious.

"After the world record and now the African title, this will open many doors for me," she said. Behind the first door is a spot on Team Africa for next month's IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018.

Celliphine Chespol was a distant second nearly 10 seconds back, clocking 9:09.61, with Fancy Cherono taking bronze.

AFTER TAMPERE TRIUMPH, ZAKAYO CONQUERS ASABA

Next came the men’s 5000m where it was Edward Zakayo, the 16-year-old who emerged prominently on the scene after winning the world U20 title over the distance last month, to take centre stage.

Third at the bell behind Yemane Haileselassie of Eritrea and Ethiopian Getaneh Molla, Zakayo bolted off the final turn to finish unchallenged, crossing the line with his tongue wagging and arms spread wide, in 13:48.58.

Molla was second in 13:49.06 with Haileselassie an exuberant third in 13:49.58 to capture one of Eritrea's two medals at these championships.

Kenya's victorious 4x400m relay squad at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images)Kenya's victorious 4x400m relay squad at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images) © Copyright

“I used the strategy to run with my competitors and maintain the pace, which I did, and then to pull away.” Next on the teenager’s agenda? “To win the world championship. But I must work even harder first.”

About 20 minutes after Zakayo crossed the line, the gun sounded the start of the men’s 1500m, a tactical affair largely driven by Kenyan aces Elijah Manangoi, the world champion, and his training partner Timothy Cheruiyot, this year's world leader who's chiseled together an unbeaten season on the IAAF Diamond League circuit.

Manangoi made his move with about 300 metres to go, unleashing a long, sustained kick that Cheruiyot couldn't meet or beat. Manangoi clocked 3:35.20 to take his first continental title, Cheruiyot 3:35.93. Uganda's Ronald Musagala closed strong to take bronze in 3:36.41.

Meanwhile on the infield, 2015 world javelin throw champion Julius Yego won his specialty with a second round 77.34m effort, defeating South African Philmar Van Rensburg (76.57m) with Kure Adams of Nigeria taking bronze with 75.69m.

 CHAMPIONSHIPS RECORD IN THE 4X400 RELAY

Then, an inspired Kenyan quartet of Aron Koech, Alphas Kishoyian, Jared Momanyi and Emmanuel Korir brought the curtain down on Asaba 2018 with victory in the 4x400m relay in 3:00.92, a championships record. South Africa was second in 3:03.50 followed by host Nigeria in 3:04.88.

Kenya's medal haul began in the early morning hours with when Samuel Gathimba prevailed in the 20km race walk, clocking 1:25:14 to beat South African Lebogang Shange by 11 seconds. The battle for second was close, with Shange just holding off Hassanina Sebei of Tunisia. Both were credited with the same time of 1:25:25.

SEMENYA TAKES THE DOUBLE

South Africa ended a strong week with three more titles to up their total medal tally to 30, an impressive 11 more than Kenya and hosts Nigeria who each collected 19 in all.

Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba congratulate each other after the 800m final at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images)Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba congratulate each other after the 800m final at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images) © Copyright

As expected, Caster Semenya successfully defended her 800m title with a dominating gun-to-tape front-running performance. Starting in lane 1, the world and Olympic champion made up the stagger on the field about 150 metres into the race, and extended her lead over the next 450 metres. The challengers, led by Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, made up some ground over the final half lap, but by then the race had already been decided. Semenya clocked 1:56.06 to clip 0.20 from the championships record set by Maria Mutola in 1993.

"Today was just to see how we could run after a hard 400 metres,” she said, competing two days after her 49.96 victory and national record over one lap. “Which wasn't a bad thing to do - to test my limits after running 49. And 1:56.06, that's a beautiful time. I couldn't have asked for more."

Semenya confirmed that she'll contest both distances at the Continental Cup and was pleased to learn that the 400 would be run first. "Perfect," she said.

Niyonsaba was second in 1:57.97 with Ethiopian Habitam Alemu taking the bronze in 1:58.86.

Ncincihli Titi took a convincing victory in the men's 200m in 20.46 with Nigeria's Oduduru Ejowvokoghene edging Luxolo Adams to prevent a South African 1-2. Both clocked 20.60.

On the infield, Ischke Senekal took top honours in the shot put reaching 17.24m to win by nearly half a metre to add to her discus bronze.

THREE MORE WINS FOR NIGERIA 

Nigeria's gold medal total was bolstered by the aptly named Glory Nathaniel who won the host's first title of the day, taking the 400m hurdles by more than a second in 55.43. Lamiae Lhabz of Morocco was second, clocking 56.66 with South African Wanda Nel (57.04) taking bronze. 

Grace Anigbata won the triple jump with a 14.02m leap in the second round, before Nigeria also claimed the penultimate event, the women’s 4x400m relay, prompting the day’s loudest roar from the nearly-packed house. The Nigerian quartet dominated the race winning in 3:31.17, more than four seconds ahead of runners-up Kenya who clocked 3:35.45. Zambia claimed the bronze in 3:38.18.

Marie Josee Ta Lou after her double dash victory at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images)Marie Josee Ta Lou after her double dash victory at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images) © Copyright

TA LOU COMPLETES DASH DOUBLE

Marie Josee Talou of Ivory Coast, the 100m winner on Thursday, also took home an expected double after dominating the 200m in 22.50. She was nearly as fast afterwards when changing her shoes and socks before rushing off to catch her ride to the airport. “I can’t wait until the Continental Cup,” the year’s 100m world leader said.

Bevia Abessolo of Cameroun was second in 23.36, just 0.02 ahead of Ghanaian Janet Amponsah.

Elsewhere, Odile Ahouanwanou of Benin scored an upset victory in the heptathlon, tallying 5999 points to beat defending champion Marthe Yasmine Koala of Burkina Faso by 32 points. Erika Nonhlanhla Seyama of Swaziland took the women's high jump at 1.83m.

Yamjaleye Beletew Mitiku opened the day with a surprise victory in the women’s 20km race walk, defeating favourite Grace Wanjiru of Kenya by more than four minutes in 1:31:46. Chahimez Nasri of Tunisia took the bronze in 1:37.20.

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SHANGHAI 800M WINNER KISASY: ‘I PLAN TO RUN UNDER 1:43 THIS YEAR’

While it is perhaps a little premature to speak of David Rudisha’s successor as the planet’s premier two-lap runner, especially as the two-time world and Olympic 800m champion and world 800m record holder is still only 29, it is inevitable an athlete will one day emerge to replace the Kenyan great.

In recent times several athletes have loomed as potential challengers to Rudisha’s long-held status. The 2017 IAAF Diamond League champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos of Botswana boasts strong credentials. World champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, the charismatic Frenchman, is another with a burgeoning profile but perhaps it is Commonwealth 800m champion and Shanghai Diamond League winner Wycliffe Kinyamal Kisasy* who is best equipped to take on the mantle.

ATHLETICS ROOTS IN THE HIGH JUMP

Just 20, the exciting but raw Kenyan boasts many similarities to Rudisha. The pair grew up just 11km apart in Narok County. Like Rudisha, Kinyamal is a Maasai and the duo both have a similar long, raking stride which eats up the ground with ease.

Yet Kisasy’s journey as one of the world’s most exciting 800m talents is a little less formulaic than most.

Born the fifth of six children, Kisasy’s father and three brothers share a passion for football, but the middle-distance star has no interest in kicking a ball. Instead, he started his sporting journey as a promising schoolboy high jumper.

Boasting a personal best of “around 2.00m” he finished in the top five in Kenyan national age-group championships before a comment from a friend in late-2015 that running might improve his high jump was to radically change the whole direction of his athletics career.

RAPID RISE

At the time based out of Keringet, he took up running and rapidly discovered a latent talent. After just a few months training he made his 800m debut, running 1:49 to win in Bondo in February 2016. Two months later he struck gold at the East African Regional Junior Championships in Tanzania – a victory which crystallised a belief his future may lie as a middle-distance runner.

“At that point I was still training on my own in Keringet (the base of world and Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon),” he explains. “I was very happy with the times I had run (over 800m) after only a few of months training.”

Despite his inexperience, in June 2016 he finished third at the Kenyan Junior Trials - and just one place shy of a place on the two-man Kenyan team for the World U20 Championships team – slashing his personal best by one second to record 1:46.8.

JOINS SANG’S CAMP

Clearly boasting a special talent, he was picked up by the athletics management agency Global Sports Communication and in early 2017 Kisasy moved from Keringet to Kaptagat to come under the influence of leading Kenyan Patrick Sang – a switch which has accelerated his meteoric development.

Wycliffe Kinyamal Kisasy winning Commonwealth 800m gold (Getty Images)Wycliffe Kinyamal Kisasy winning Commonwealth 800m gold (Getty Images) 

“Since Patrick started coaching me my life has changed,” adds the softly-spoken Kinyamal, who in his spare time loves to sing to Maasai music. “When he asks me to do something, I have total faith in what he is telling me to do.”

Training largely on his own for track sessions, twice a week he joins Sang’s world-class long-distance training group for easy runs led by Olympic marathon champion and Kenyan running colossus Eliud Kipchoge.

“I have learned so much since training with them (the distance-running group),” he says. “They are a big motivation.

“Eliud offers regular advice. He tells me training is a struggle and that I need to work hard.”

Further progress came last year. On his seasonal debut in Nijmegen he ran a PB of 1:46.56. In his next outing, he scalped a further 0.89 from his lifetime best to place second in Hengelo.

INJURY FRUSTRATIONS IN 2017

His progression in 2017 was frustratingly stunted by a hamstring injury and he limped to sixth spot in the heats at the Kenyan World Championship Trials in Nairobi. The issue meant he missed two months of competitive action only to return in late August in Rovereto, Italy, where Kisasy made another giant leap forward in his fledgling career by taking victory in a stunning new personal best of 1:43.94.

“I followed the pacemaker and later (Antoine) Gakeme from Burundi,” he explains. “I moved to the front at 250m and started to push the pace. The time surprised me.”

Making his 2018 seasonal debut indoors in Dusseldorf, finishing second in 1:46.54, he also revealed another similarity to Rudisha – a lack of aptitude for running indoors.

“I found it hard running around the tight turns, because I am tall,” he explains.

A week-and-a-half later in the more familiar outdoor running environment he secured second spot at the Kenyan Commonwealth Games Trials, recording 1:44.72 - just 0.08 behind Jonathan Kitilit - to book his ticket on the Kenyan team for Gold Coast.

All smiles - Wycliffe Kinyamal Kisasy after winning the Commonwealth 800m title (Getty Images)All smiles - Wycliffe Kinyamal Kisasy after winning the Commonwealth 800m title 

In Australia, Kisasy backed up his raw talent to reveal genuine championship pedigree – the mark of any great champion. In the final, he hit the bell in third before making his winning move and kicking past the fading 2014 Commonwealth champion Nijel Amos at 250m.

Holding a significant advantage down much of the home stretch he repelled a blistering late charge from Englishman Kyle Langford to clinch gold by 0.05 in 1:45.11. 

Aiming to win “any medal” before the Games to take victory was the icing on the cake.

“Winning gold has given me a lot of confidence,” he says. “My career ambition now is to do a lot more in the future. I am still young and I need to do more at the 2019 World Championships (in Doha) and 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.”

AMBITIOUS 2018 GOALS

His Diamond League debut in Shanghai offered further evidence of his gifts. Edging a titanic tussle from Kitilit in a personal best time 1:43.91 he sent another thunderous statement to the 800m running world that he could be the man to beat for the rest of this season.

“I feel I have good speed-endurance and I plan to run under 1:43 this year,” he explains of his qualities and future plans for 2018.

Aged just 20 and with a little over 20 competitive 800m races in his life his best is clearly yet to come. Meanwhile, working under the astute and often patient stewardship of Sang is another positive sign.

Which brings us to one final question: does Kisasy have any plans to return to the high jump?

“No,” he says with a smile. “I have left the high jump in the past back in Kenya.” And after his dazzling transition into the 800m who could blame him.

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Health ministry, Governors sign MoU on Cuban doctors

The Health ministry has signed an MoU with the Council of Governors on the hiring of Cuban doctors.

At the ceremony on Monday, Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki noted that specialised services are important for Kenyans.

"We are ready to support this initiative by Governors," she said after signing the agreement alongside CoG vice chair Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga).

Waiguru said the process that surrounded the deal was "very consultative and inclusive" and that counties will receive the specialists they need most.

"The journey towards universal healthcare is a long term undertaking that requires regular consultation and coordination between the two levels of government and all actors," she noted.

The national government and counties will share the costs of having the 100 Cuban doctors who will arrive later this month.

A memorandum signed by Kenya and Cuba shows each county will get at least two.

The doctors will work hand-in-hand with their Kenyan counterparts to roll out a range of medical services that are expected to radically change how a large number of life-threatening diseases are managed.

Universal healthcare is one of four pillars that President Uhuru Kenyatta has prioritised in his second term. The others are food security, manufacturing and affordable housing.

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