Kenyan Mercy Chebwogen picked the first gold medal of the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona on Tuesday, a day that also saw Daisy Jepkemei run a world lead in the women's 3000m Steeplechase.
Chebwogen,16, gold was the seventh win for Kenya at the event and the fifth in a row.
Ironically, the gold medal not only remains in Kenya but also still belongs to a 'Mercy’ as her compatriot Mercy Cherono already won the title both in 2008 and 2010.
Timed at 9:08.88, Chebwogen,was a clear winner from Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebrekidan, silver medallist in 9:09.27 and Great Britain’s Emelia Gorecka who bagged bronze marginally behind the Ethiopian (9:09.43).
The large pack of 19 women was led in the early stages by the Kenyan pair of Chebwogen and Brillian Jepkorir Kipkoech at a moderate pace.
The Briton’s relentless rhythm soon paid off and only the two Kenyans and the Ethiopian pair of Gebrekidan and Haftamnesh Tesfay remained in hot pursuit.
The decisive movement was made by the shortest of the Kenyans Chebwogen, who overtook the Briton some 240m left. However, Gorecka tried to recover the lead on the bend and the two athletes ran virtually even for some metres.
Entering the home straight Chebwogen easily got rid of Gorecka to romp home unopposed in a PB of 9:08.88 while the Briton was caught barely 20m to the line by Gebrekidan, both also setting respective career bests of 9:09.27 and 9:09.43. Actually no less than 12 athletes managed PBs including the fourth Tesfay (9:10:02) and the fifth Kipkoech, timed at 9:14.32.
Demelash ends Kenyans 10000m men’s dominance
Ethiopia’s Yigrem Demelash brought the Kenyan dominance at the event to a halt to grab the gold medal in style in a career best of 28:16.07.
The Kenyan pair of Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui and Philemon Kipchilis Cheboi had been hotly tipped as the main favourites but Demelash proved to be a master tactician and his arch-rivals Kenyans had to settle for the minor places on the podium .
The race opened quite conservatively as the lonesome early leader China’s Binlu Wang went through the opening 1000m in 2:55.54 and a full 10-second margin over the rest of the 34 competitors. The Kenyan pair injected a lethal pace some 1500m into the race and only the Ethiopian duo and Uganda’s Moses Martin Kurong were able to live with their pace.
Kirui, who holds an impressive 26:55.73 to rank second on the all-time Junior lists, opened full gas after the second kilometre and an impressive 8:15 split for the following three kilometres led him lonesome at the front. Even before the halfway, Kirui began to lap the slowest contenders.
The 5000m was reached in 14:14 with Kirui still leading but shortly after the sixth kilometre the Kenyan began to falter a bit to be caught by Cheboi and Demelash.
The decisive moment came some three laps home when Cheboi was unable to maintain his own pace and was effortlessly passed by Demelash, who covered the penultimate 1000m section in 2:51.41.
Demelash ruled at the bell some 40m ahead of Cheboi, himself another 30m clear of Kirui. In addition to Demelash PB of 28:16.07 Cheboi also produced a career best of 28:23.98 in second for Kirui’s 28:30.47 in third.
World junior lead in steeplechase
Jepkemei display raised Kenyan hopes of maintaining domination of the women's 3000m Steeplechase where they have provided the winner since its inclusion in the Championship schedule eight years ago.
After watching arch Ethiopian rival Tejinesh Gebisa lower the 2012 World lead with a personal best of 10:01.48 in the first qualifier, she took her race in immaculate style when leading from gun-to-tape and clocking a lifetime best of 9:56.33.
An impressive second kilometre of 3:13 broke the backs of the other contenders for Thursday’s final as she strode well clear of Oona Kettunen of Finland who lowered her PB to 10:12.55 .
Gebisa was a revelation in her contest swiping 15 seconds from her previous fastest mark and finishing well clear of Kenyan Stella Rutto who ran more conservatively to record a PB 10:07.13.
Alphas Kishoyian and Boniface Mweresa were impressive in their qualifiers both topping their respective heats.
Mweresa had the second fastest time of the qualifiers of 46.16 ahead of Wednesday’s semi finals while Kishoyian clocked 46.22 in his race.
Dominic Mutuku and Hillary Cheruiyot both booked their places in the men’s 1500m.Mutuku ranked second in his heat won by Ethiopian Teshome Dirirsa in 3:41.97 while Ngetich trailed Eritrean Teklit Teweldebrhan(3:46.36) in 3:46.54.
Agatha Kimaswai qualified third from the opening heat of the women’s 800m in 2:03.22 won by British Jessica Judd(2:02.71).
Compiled from Iaaf