Kenyans shine on final day of IAAF World Under 18 championships

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Jackline Wambui celebrates after winning the 800 m gold

Jackline Wambui celebrates after winning the 800 m gold

With 10 sets of medals on the line on the final day of the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017, there was plenty of excitement for the 60,000 capacity crowd in the Kasarani Stadium on Sunday.

There was much to cheer about for the crowd, with two more golds for the home team to make up for the disappointments of the previous day, plus the fastest girls’ 100m hurdles race ever.

Jackline Wambui was the winner of the girls’ 800m final with a world-U18-leading time of 2:01.46 after running the second lap within one minute. Lydia Jeruto Lagat, the fastest entrant in these championships, finished just behind her in a PB of 2:02.06.

Hirut Meshesha of Ethiopia was in front on the first lap, reaching 400 metres in 1:01.53, with Wambui on her shoulder throughout. But then – having learnt from the mistakes of their teammates in the boys’ 800m final on Saturday – the two Kenyans made their move at the 500-metre mark and the Ethiopian had no response.

Wambui maintained the lead throughout, and although Lagat tried to attack on the home straight, she was unable to make an impression on the leader. Meshesha held on to take third place, although a long way between the top two, reaching the line in 2:06.32.

There was a similar story of Kenyan dominance in the boys’ 2000m steeplechase final. Leonard Kipkemoi Bett and Cleophas Kandie Meyan ran away from the field early and it was just a matter of which of the Kenyans would take the gold. It was Bett who held the lead in the latter part of the race and he won in 5:32.52, with Meyan second in 5:33.07.

The two Ethiopians were left to fight it out for the bronze medal. Alemu Kitessa took it with 5:42.10, pulling away on the last lap to finish more than three-and-a-half seconds ahead of his compatriot Girma Diriba.

It was a different story, however, in the boys’ 3000m. Kenya and Ethiopia were once again fighting it out between themselves, as only the four athletes from those two nations were left in front one kilometre from the finish. Ethiopia’s Milkesa Mengesha tried a move on the penultimate lap, but after he appeared to be pulling away, the leading group bunched up again. Some 200 metres from the finish it was first the Kenyans – Edward Zakayo and Stanley Mburu Waithaka – then the other Ethiopian, Selemon Barega, who started their kicks.

World U20 champion Barega proved to be the one with the most speed and he took the win comfortably in 7:47.16 after a last kilometre of 2:26. Zakayo followed in 7:49.17 and Waithaka took the bronze with 7:50.64.

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