TAMPERE, Finland- Kenya bagged her first gold medal of the Tampere 2018 IAAF World Under 20 (WU20) Championships in Finland on Tuesday evening when Beatrice Chebet powered to glory in the women 5000m final.
Chebet was simply brilliant on the last lap, kicking past long-time leader Ejgayehu Taye of Ethiopia off the final bend, holding a slight edge all the way to the finish.
Both runners celebrated as they crossed the line, with the winner clocking 15:30.77 to Taye’s 15:30.87 following an enthralling finish with another Ethiopian, Girmawit Gebrhizair taking bronze in 15:34.01.
Victory saw the Kenyan contingent at the stadium erupt as the biennial international junior track and field showpiece got off to a dream start.
Draped in the red, green and black Kenyan flag, the Chebet fan club celebrated with abandon as their woman ruled the world over 5000m, bringing gold home for the country hailed as the home of distance running with compatriot Hellen Ekarare Lobun, survived a fall to finish fifth in 15:45.07.
Lobun led the entry lists by a clear margin before the start with her 15:12.89 lifetime best but she was decisively beaten at the national U20 Championships by Chebet- the clocks returning 15:31.66 against 15:46.97- at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
From the gun, the early leader, as you often find in a major championship distance final, is Japanese in this case, Tomomi Takamatsu, who towed the field through 1000m in 3:07.71.
Lobun then crashed to the track in the first major incident of the women 12 and a half-lap final, losing several metres after colliding legs with her rivals.
However, she thankfully got back up and re-filled her lungs with air and nestled in the pack.
The field passed 2000m in a not-so-fast 6:21.37 and 3000m in a chilled-out 9:35.28, with Takamatsu of Japan continuing to lead, before she surrendered to East African brigade with Ejgayehu taking over at the front.
As the race came towards its conclusion, two Kenyans, two Ethiopians and one Ugandan were out at the lead in the race for the medals: Ejgayehu, Lobun, Gebrhizair, Chebet and Sarah Chelangat.
After the bell, Ejgayehu was still holding the advantage with Lobun breathing down her shoulder as they powered through the back straight with the pace picking up to full throttle.
It was then that Chebet, made her decisive move at the final sprint for the finish, finding the legs to out-kick her Ethiopian rival and deliver the world title.
Her feat means that Kenya, for the first time in over a decade, hold both the senior and junior women 5000m world titles after the success of Hellen Obiri at London 2017 Worlds.
If you add Vivian Cheruiyot’s gold medal from the Rio 2016 Olympics, Chebet sealed the unique hat-trick.
- Beatrice Chebet KEN 15:30.77 PB
- Ejgayehu Taye ETH 15:30.87 PB
- Girmawit Gebrzihair ETH 15:34.01 PB
- Sarah Chelangat UGA 15:43.01
- Hellen Ekarare Lobun KEN 15:45.07
- Dolshi Tesfu ERI 15:52.84 PB
- Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu JPN 15:55.74
- Cailie Logue USA 15:56.00 PB
- Emily Venters USA 15:59.05
- Yanli Zhao CHN 16:17.64 PB