NAIROBI, Kenya- Beatrice Chepkoech won Kenya’s second silver medal of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games when she was led to the altar by South African Olympic champion, Caster Semenya in the women 1500m final on Tuesday.
Chepkoech led the challengers’ home in a lifetime best of 4:03.09 after Semenya disengaged from the field after the bell to motor to the gold in a Commonwealth and national record- 4:00.71- to keep her 800m/1500m double dream alive in Australia.
Welsh runner, Mellissa Courtney was also rewarded with a personal best of 4:03.44 for the bronze as the second Kenyan in the final, Mary Wangari Kuria (4:05.88) finished ninth in a seasonal best.
Semenya injection of pace saw eight of the 14 starters end up with personal or seasonal bests as the three-time world 800m champion underlined her credentials.
Chepkoech took the initiative and led from the front through the 400m (1:03.82), 800m (2:10.81) and 1200m (3:16.23) splits before Semenya extended her powerful legs and charged past the Kenyan on the back straight, final curve and finally through the homestretch.
Her medal brings Kenya’s tally to four thus far with two silver and two bronze as the hunt for the elusive gold spilled over to the fourth day of the track and field competition.
Bett swaggers back to form
In other events, Beijing 2015 world champion, Nicholas Bett and his twin brother Aron Koech kept their Commonwealth Games medal hunt alive after coming through the heats of the men 400m Hurdles.
Bett, who was forced to miss his title defence last year in London and the Rio 2016 Olympics through injury, showed glimpses of return to form when he breezed to victory in Heat 3 of his competition in 49.24, with Jeffrey Gibson (49.75) of Bahamas trailing him across the line to book the second automatic place.
His brother and African bronze winner Koech squeezed through to the medal race as a fastest loser from Heat 2 when he stopped the timer at 49.28 for third. Jaheel Hyde of Jamaica ran 49.14 to take the race ahead of Englishman Jack Green (49.24).
Nigerian Mohamed Rilwan Alowonle (49.49) set a Youth Commonwealth record in fourth to seal his place as the second fastest loser.
British Virgin Island’s runner; Kyron McMaster was in a class of his own in the opening round when he stormed to 48.78, the fastest time of the heats to lay a marker to medal challengers in winning the first race.
Jamaica’s Andre Clarke (49.10) came home way behind to clinch the second automatic qualifying slot.
Kitilit, Kinyamal shine
Africa junior (Under 20) silver winner, Jonathan Kitilit and newcomer, Wycliffe Kinyamal easily qualified for the men 800m final during the Tuesday morning heats dominated by the second fastest man ever over the distance, Botswana star Nijel Amos.
The third Kenyan entered at the two-lap race, Cornelius Tuwei missed out on qualification after running 1:47.27 for third in the heat won by London 2012 Olympics and Commonwealth champion, Amos who posted 1:45.12, the fastest mark of the day.
Kinyamal was the first out for Team Kenya and fashioned a controlled 1:45.56 victory in Heat 1 to finish ahead of England’s Kyle Langford (1:45.56) and Australian Joseph Deng (1:45.72) who nailed one of the two fastest losers tickets.
Kitilit who won the second medal at the 2013 Africa Under 20 in Reduit, Mauritius topped his race in 1:47.76 to tow Jake Wightman (1:47.43) to automatic qualification with home runner, Joshua Ralph (1:47.76) finishing third.
Brad Mathas of New Zealand who clocked 1:46.32 to finish fourth in the heat won by Kinyamal clinched the other fastest loser ticket.
Mark Otieno Odhiambo who exited the men 100m at Gold Coast in the semis will have another crack at reaching the finals when he sneaked through from the men 200m heats.
Compatriots Mike Mokamba and Peter Ndichu crashed out of the first round of long dash where Otieno ran 21.03 for third in Heat 3 where Rasheed Dwyer of Jamaica topped in 20.59.
Mokamba was eliminated despite racing 21.14 for third in Heat 6, failing to clinch the second automatic qualifying place by four-hundredth of a second in the race won by South African Anaso Jobodwana in 20.89.
In the corresponding women’s competition, Millicent Ndoro was the only Kenyan to survive the heats when she punched her ticket to the semis as one of the four fastest losers from the opening round of the event.
Ndoro clocked 24.31 for fifth in Heat 3 won by Shaunae Miller-Uibo of Bahamas in 22.95 with countrywomen, Gladys Musyoki (24.94) and Joan Cherono (25.10) not so lucky after being eliminated by finishing sixth and last in Heat 4 and Heat 1.
Bethwel Lagat saw his dream to make Commonwealth history in the men Long jump dissipate in the first round when his best effort of 7.58m placed him down the finishing order in 10th as South African Ruswahl Samaai led the three qualifiers to the final with 8.06m from Group B.
In the afternoon session, national record holder, Maximila Imali, kept her chase for a Commonwealth medal on after winning the first semi final of the women 400m in 51.52 ahead of Yinka Adayi (51.81) of Nigeria.
The Kenya Police Service runner is bidding to be the first Kenyan female athlete to medal at the single-lap event at the Commonwealth having set the 51.18 national record last year to topple the previous mark of 51.56 set by Ruth Waithera at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Veronica Kamumbe Mutua’s medal hopes in the women 400m went up in smoke when she propped the field in 54.85 during the first semi final of the lap-race won by Anastasia Le-Roy (51.08) who upset former world champion, Botswana’s Amatle Montsho (51.26) to second.
Musyoki took to the track after her elimination in the 200m and ran 54.40 in Heat 3 of the 400m semis to finish seventh and out of the final.