Obiri races to bronze, tactic slip-up again as relay team bomb out at Worlds

By evelyn watta
Aug 16, 2021

Moscow - Kenya's  Hellen Obiri finally achieved her dream of a championship 1500m medal clinching bronze in a scintillating final Thursday at the Luzhniki stadium.

The women’s race almost overshadowed by the men’s steeplechase run, Obiri in a way recovered the bronze that denied Kenya the desired sweep.

Keen on defending her title American Jennifer Simpson opted for an early lead that saw her cover the first lap in 1:05.73 as Swedish Abeba Aregawi, British Hannah England and the Kenyan trio of Obiri, Nancy Jebet Lagat and Faith Kipyegon fought their way to remain at a touching distance.

After the second lap that Simpson again paced, Obiri racing on the outer lane tried to surge past the American but Ethiopian born Aregawi equaled her step and moved forward as they approached the bell.

At the Olympic race she lost her step after one of the finalists fell, Aregawi did not take any chances in the world final avoding the crowded pack as she sped off to a 4:02.67 win, extending her win streak to nine races this season.

Simpson was relegated to the silver in 4:02.99 as Obiri won the bronze in 4:03.86. England past a slowing Kipyegon for fourth in 4:04.98 while the teenager impressed in 4:05.08.

“I worked specifically on the final 400m and on improving my final after my failure at the Olympics,”said Aregawi.

“I did expect to get a medal, I am so happy. It is like a dream come true for me!” said Obiri.

Poor Baton passing cost relay team

Kenyan runners’ skills were again on focus as the youthful men’s squad raced in the second qualifying heat of the men’s 4 by 400m relay.

The team without injured Mike Mweresa who was replaced by 800m semi finalist Anthony Chemut were left ruing their poor baton exchanges that ranked them a disappointing 23rd of the 24 teams even as they ran their season best of 3:06.29 in a tough and fast final that included fancied Americans and the Caribbean experts Trinidad and Tobago.

Mike Mokamba ran the anchor leg handing over to Alphonse Kishoyian as Kenya struggled between fifth and sixth positions then.

Kenya’s handover cost them precious seconds dropping back in the third leg ran by Chemut who handed over to Moses Kertich then clearly behind the winners USA in 2:59.85 the fastest of the three heats.

“This was a hot and tough heat. I kicked too much in the first 100m that slowed me down in the finishing. But I think our biggest mistake was poor baton exchange. Again not having Mweresa whom we had been training with affected us,” admitted Kishoyian.

“We waste a lot of time at the baton pass, for other teams its smooth,” agreed Kertich.

“This was like jumping from one fire to another,” said Chemut who reckoned that Kenyans needed to shift their focus on training and work on tactics.

“People are running smart, not running to burn out. Look at my race 800m it was the slowest heat but I missed out,” he added still bothered by the missed final(800m) qualification for the second championships running after the Olympics.