World record for Kenya 4x1500 women, gold for 4x800 men

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
May 25, 2014

Kenya became the first gold medallists at the inaugural IAAF World Relays when they took the men’s 4x800m final in emphatic fashion, crossing the line in 7:08.40 while the Kenya’s women’s 4x1500m quartet improved the World record by more than half-a-minute to 16:33.58 at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas.

Kenyan women improve record  

 The team of Mercy Cherono, Faith Kipyegon, Irene Jelagat and Hellen Obiri not only took the first prize of US$50,000 but also a World record bonus of US$50,00 Cherono opened with a leg of 4:07.4, leading at the handover, Kipyegon followed with 4:08.5, Jalegat ran a leg of 4:10.8 with Obiri bringing Kenya home with 4:06.9 (all splits unofficial).

The previous World best of 17:05.72 was set by another Kenyan team in Nairobi last month.

Obiri had just run a national record of 8:20.68 over 3000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha, to become the sixth fastest runner ever over the distance, with Cherono just behind in 8:21.14; those two marks together would be well under the previous record.

So the question, realistically, was not whether the Kenyan quartet would lower the record; but by how much. The biggest obstacle to a Kenyan team lowering the record again, in fact, would be competition from an Ethiopian entry, who were sadly absent from the IAAF World Relays on this occasion, missing the opportunity for what could have been a spectacular duel with their Rift Valley Rivals.

Stirring gold 

The Kenyan men made an obvious attempt at the World record, which has stood at 7:02.43 to another Kenyan squad since 2006, and led from gun-to-tape. Ferguson Rotich leapt into a 10 metres lead at the end of the first lap, covered in 50.70.

Rotich then struggled on the second lap before handing off to Sammy Kirongo as Kenya reached 800m in 1:46.00.

Kirongo's first lap of 50.40 only extended Kenya's lead but again he slowed over the second 400m; 1600m was passed in 3:31.70 and the World record was clearly beyond their reach.

Things got rougher for the Kenyans on the second half of the race, however, as their pacing became more ambitious: 50.00 was the first 400m for Job Koech Kinyor on Kenya's third leg, but he came back in 57.90 and handed off to Alfred Kipketer almost at a walk.

Kipketer's ambitious 49.00 opening lap made it 6:08.60 for the Kenyans at the bell, but Kipketer also faded badly on the his lap, splitting 59.80 for a final time of 7:08.40.

The race that unfolded behind them was almost as exciting, with the lead shifting between the USA, Spain, Australia and even, briefly, Bermuda.  

Adam Kszczot, the two-time European 800m indoor champion, beat Solomon to the rail despite taking the stick on the outside, and as the pair closed quickly on Kipketer, he beat Solomon to the finish for a Polish national record of 7:08.69. USA took the bronze medals.