NAIROBI, Kenya- If ever there was a doctorate to be awarded for the act of spoiling the party, then the Ethiopian Nairobi 2017 IAAF World Under 18 (WU18) team surely graduated with first class honours.
On Sunday, their latest party-pooper, Selemon Barega, defied the might of his Kenyan rivals and ear-piercing noise from a capacity-packed Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani to deliver boys’ 3000m gold from the den of the arch enemy.
Selemon will no doubt receive a red-carpet reception in Addis Ababa after taking the nation’s tally at the last-ever WU18 to four but most importantly, achieving so by towing Kenyans Edward Zakayo and Stanley Mburu to the minor medals in that order.
His victory, achieved in a personal best of 7:47.16 was truly sensational although Kenyans will beg to differ, having survived not one, two, three but four spirited charges from the silver and bronze winner before turning on the afterburners with 50m to go for glory.
Selemon not only managed to black out the earth shattering noise at such a young age and stick to his stride but also floored his more fancied compatriot Milkesa Mengesha in the race for the honours.
From the gun, the field went out in a healthy pace passing 400m in 61 seconds with the Africans leading the group and at 800m the clock read 2:06.79.
Favourite Milkesha was at the front and his teammate Selemon just behind, but Zakayo and Mburu kept together in a position to pounce.
Off their seats
With three laps to run, the Kenyans kept Milkesha busy at the front responding to any attempt the Ethiopian made to breakaway with the crowd getting off their seats.
As they came for the bell, it was the taller Ethiopian Milkesha who was still with the lead but the Kenyans attacked with the stakes getting higher.
Selemon however, picked his move and charged through the back straight and as they came to the final bend, the winner opened up an advantage he was never to let go with Zakayo, his closest challenger, finally surrendering the fight for good with 50m to go.
He nonetheless, got silver in 7:49.17 as Waithaka came in for the bronze in 7:50.64, both personal bests but the Kenyan pair did not really seem to care as their arch rivals once again, for the fourth time in Nairobi 2017, stole a golden match.
Boys’ 3000m Results
1 228 Selemon BAREGA ETH 7:47.16 PB
2 346 Edward ZAKAYO KEN 7:49.17 PB
3 344 Stanley Mburu WAITHAKA KEN 7:50.64 PB
4 237 Milkesa MENGESHA 7:55.29 PB
5 490 Oscar CHELIMO UGA 8:17.57
6 134 Léonce BUKURU BDI 8:24.59
7 219 Bereket MICHAEL ERI 8:26.05
8 218 Meron GOITOM ERI 8:31.24
9 324 Sharif ELATAWNEH JOR 8:31.99 PB
10 497 Titus Given KWEMOI UGA 8:37.71
11 174 Zelang TAO CHN 8:43.82
12 366 Fouad MESSAOUDI MAR 8:57.18
13 136 Belmin MRKANOVIC BIH 9:30.92