Kenyan juniors wrap Poland outing with Steeple and 800 gold

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Jul 24, 2016
  • Kipyegon Bett of Kenya wins the 800m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 (Photo by Getty Images)

  • Amos Kirui wins the 3000m steeplechase at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016.(Photo by Getty Images)

Amos Kirui kept Kenya’s perfect U20 World Championships streak in the 3000m Steeplechase alive for the 15th consecutive edition on Sunday the last day of competition at the World juniors in Bydogoszcz, Poland.

Earlier Kenya had produced a second consecutive 1-2 finish in the men's 800m, with Kipyegon Bett prevailing over Willy Tarbei in 1:44.95.

The wins ensured Kenyans finished second on the medal standings with five gold, two silver and two bronze medals behind United States with 11 gold, six silver and four bronze.Ethiopia finished third with a gold less than Kenya.

Kirui and teammate Vincent Kipyegon Ruto, the reigning world U18 champion, controlled the pace for most of the race, taking turns with the lead for the first two kilometres, Kirui bringing the field through the first 1000 metres in 2:51.39 and Ruto through 2000 metres in 5:35.00.

With three laps remaining, was essentially a four-man race for the medals, with Ethiopian Getnet Wale and Eritrean Yemane Haileselassie joining the Kenyan pair in the hunt.

Shadowing the pair closest, Wale looked to be in strong position to make his move over the final lap – until he reached the water jump on the penultimate lap.

Coming off the barrier, he slipped and tumbled as he tried to leave the water pit, seemingly tripping his way out of contention.

While he recovered, Haileselassie moved past him and into third, off on a solo chase of the Kenyan duo.

But Wale wasn’t finished. He quickly made up ground, fighting his way back into contact with the leaders as they approached the last bend for the final time.

Momentum appeared to be on his side as they approached the water jump where Wale, just about the pass Ruto, fell once again in nearly the identical spot.

At this point Kirui pulled away unchallenged to win in 8:20.43, with Haileselassie and Ruto giving chase. But some 25 metres from the finish, the pursuers for the minor medals found themselves yet again joined by Wale.

In a rough and tumble battle at the line, Haileselassie got the upper hand for silver with Wale, diving across the line in front of Ruto to take the bronze.

Haileselassie clocked 8:22.67 and Wale a personal best 8:22.83, a scant 0.01 ahead of Ruto.

“It was a stunning victory,” said Kirui, whose previous best was 8:37.4. “I wanted to fight for the championships record. Now I want to focus on fighting for a place in the Diamond League.”

Strong 1-2 finish 

It was a strong front-running performance by Bett, who led from the 200-metres point onward, to turn the tables on Tarbei who finished ahead of him at last year’s IAAF World Youth Championships Cali 2015.

“I lost to Willy last year but this time I expected to win after I finished first at the Kenyan Trials this year,” said Bett, who clocked a PB 1:44.4 in the Nairobi race.

“My only problem was the finishing kick, and I worked hard on that this year.”

That didn’t show as he collected Kenya’s tenth world U20 title over the distance.

“I’m not disappointed to lose to my teammate,” said Tarbei, who clocked 1:45.50.

“I have an injured toe that that was not a big problem today. Our tactic today was to run together, it is easier to run fast that way.”

They did just that, controlling the tempo from the break.

First they brushed off Brian Bell of the US who gave chase over the first lap, and then both Jesus Tonatiu Lopez of Mexico, who briefly ran third down the back straight on the second lap.

And finally Morocco’s Mostafa Smaili, who powered past the Mexican on the final bend to cruise to the bronze. Smaili, who was an impressive sixth at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 in March, clocked 1:46.02 in third, the first ever medal in the event at these championships for Morocco.

The women's 1500 went Ethiopia's way.Adanech Anbesa and Fantu Worku ensured Ethiopia claimed gold and silver for the second championships in a row with. The duo outpaced the six runners who remained in title contention with 200 metres remaining.

Anbesa’s victory completed the Ethiopian whitewash in the middle and long distances on the women’s programme with Beyenu Degefa and Kalkidan Fentie winning the 3000m and 5000m respectively. 

By contrast, the Kenyans came away empty handed – just as they did in the 3000m – with Winfred Mbithe losing out in the battle for the bronze medal against USA’s Christina Aragon. Kenya's best showing on the flat was a silver medal from Immaculate Chepkirui in the 5000m on Saturday.