Voice of Sport

Good closing day as Kenya finish second to USA at World Juniors in Oregon

Seventeen-year-old Kipketer added his 800m gold in Eugene to the world youth title from last year. He was part of the winning 4x800m Kenyan squad at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau


ALFRED Kipketer restored Kenya’s dominance in the 800m with an impressive 1:43.95 in Eugene, Oregon, the second-fastest time in the history of the IAAF World Junior Championships.

Kipketer led his countryman Joshua Tiampati Masikonde to the third Kenyan 1-2 in the men’s 800m in the history of the competition.

The win, was Kenya’s fourth as the curtains came down on the six-day competition. Kenya finished the championship in second position behind USA with 16 medals — four gold, five silver and seven bronze.

Pace

The Kenyan duo set a blistering pace from the start, covering the first 200m in 23.59 and the first lap in 49.42, about five metres ahead of the rest of the field. After the 600m mark, covered in 1:16.51, Kipketer started to move away from Masikonde and went on to win in 1:43.95, close to the championship record of 1:43.79, set by Botswana’s Nigel Amos in 2012.

Kipketer’s time moved him to the ninth on the world junior all-time list. Masikonde held on to secure silver in a personal best of 1:45.14 ahead of fast-finishing Andreas Almgren, who set a Swedish junior record of 1:45.65 to take bronze.

Improvement

Athletes who finished fourth to seven also improved their personal bests, including fourth placer Brazil’s Thiago Andre, the same position he achieved in the 1500m.

Seventeen-year-old Kipketer added his gold in Eugene to the world youth title from last year. He was part of the winning 4x800m Kenyan squad at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau and became the ninth Kenyan man to win the global junior gold in the distance. Only five other athletes have run faster than him at Hayward Field.

Double

Earlier, Barnabas Kipyego led home his Kenyan team-mate Titus Kipruto Kibiego for a double in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. Kipyego was clocked in 8:25.57; Kibiego crossed the line in 8:26.15.

Kipyego made the pace for much of the race, keeping the tempo from dawdling and leading the surges which trimmed the lead group down. He led through the initial kilometre split of 2:53.56; it was Kibiego’s turn to lead at the second split of 5:42.81.

The pack narrowed to the two Kenyans, world youth champion Meresa Kahsay of Ethiopia, and Bahrain’s Evans Rutto Chematot, but with two laps remaining Kahsay began to get left behind.

Close-up

With three laps to go I saw I was no longer with the Kenyans,” Chematot explained later, although he remained close up to the bell when Kibiego passed him for good. It was Kipyego who took off on the last lap, with Kibiego shadowing him but unable to get ahead. Kipyego stepped smoothly over the last water jump, which Kibiego hurdled a little ineptly, slowing him down a bit.

Kipyego got over the final barrier more smoothly, giving him a slight advantage he held to the finish. “Leading from the start to the end is what we had planned,” Kipyego explained. “This event is for Kenyans.”

–  Additional reporting by IAAF