Kenyans Conseslus Kipruto and Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon earned gold medals and new meet records in the men’s steeplechase and women’s 1500.
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
Records fell in bunches on the sixth and final day of the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, as Championship marks were broken in each of the three distance finals contested this evening. Kenyans Conseslus Kipruto and Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon earned gold medals and new championship records in the men’s 3000m steeplechase and women’s 1500m, respectively, while Nijel Amos of Botswana also set a championship record in the 800m. A national high school record was set by American Mary Cain in the 1500m.
The first distance event on today’s schedule was the 3000m steeplechase, which saw pre-race favorites Kipruto and Gilbert Kiplangat Kirui separate from the field early. The pair would run alone in front of the eleven-man field from the start, much like they did in their preliminary heats on Friday. Going through the first and second kilometers by themselves, the Kenyans were on pace to sweep the top two spots. The only question was which athlete would take home the gold.
That honor would go to Kipruto, who began to quickly separate from Kirui shortly after 2000 meters. Clocking 2:40.98 for the final kilometer, Kipruto crossed the line in a new championship record of 8:06.10, a time which would have won gold at three out of the last four Olympic Games. With his win, Kipruto extends Kenya’s streak to twelve gold medals earned in the discipline over the past twelve IAAF World Junior Championships.
“I am really happy because I not only got the gold but also achieved good personal results,” Kipruto told the IAAF. “Today I dedicate this medal to my country.”
Thirteen seconds behind came Kirui, timed in 8:19.94, still more than ten seconds ahead of bronze medalist Hicham Sigueni.
“He made the attack and I couldn’t catch him,” Kirui recalled to the IAAF. “He deserved the gold and we made the double on steeplechase. I am very happy.”
Somewhat surprising is the fact that Kipruto’s gold medal is the only one of that color for Kenya’s men’s team at this year’s championships; in 2010, the team won gold in each distance event from the 800m up.
Finishing eleventh and last was America’s Eddie Owens in a new personal best of 8:51.44.
As expected, Kenya’s Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon won the women’s 1500m. Though she didn’t achieve a new personal best –earlier in the week she was quoted as saying her goal was to run under 4:02 in the final– the 18-year-old, who will represent Kenya at the Olympic Games in the 1500m, did set a championship record of 4:04.96. Kipyegon broke Dong Liu’s nearly ten year-old mark of 4:05.14, set at the 1992 IAAF World Junior Championships in Seoul.
“I am very happy to get gold medal,” Kipyegon told the IAAF. “When I entered to [the] stadium, I saw that Conseslus got the gold medal and Gilbert got the silver medal [in the steeplechase]. And it gave me a lot of energy to run. [Then] I broke championship record.”
A tactical race, Kipyegon broke from the front pack with 400m remaining, leaving her competitors racing only for silver.
Behind her, Amela Terzic of Serbia set her own national junior record by placing second in 4:07.59. Rounding out the medal stand was Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi, running a personal best of 4:08.28.
Going for her second medal of the meet, Great Britain’s Jessica Judd finished fifth in 4:09.93, a personal best by five seconds. One spot behind came American Mary Cain, setting a new national high school record of 4:11.01. At 16, Cain is the youngest member of the United States team at the meet. Even so, she was able to break Jordan Hasay’s previous high school record by more than three seconds.
Botswana’s Nijel Amos won the men’s 800m gold medal by shaving nearly a second off the championship record of 1:44.77 by timing an eye-popping 1:43.79. As predicted, the race came down to Amos and the Kenyan duo of Timothy Kitum and Edwin Kiplagat Melly, all three of whom had cruised to victories in their semi-final heats a day ago.
For 700 meters, it was Puerto Rico’s Wesley Vazquez who was out in front, doing the leading duties before the three eventual medalists passed and kicked their way onto the medal stand. Proving why he is the world junior leader in the discipline, Amos came around Vazquez’s shoulder and would sprint the final straight in front. Behind, Kitum and Melly moved into second and third, where they would finish moments later.
“I am really content to get the gold today, in spite of my injured leg,” Amos told the IAAF. “It will still take some time to recover. I am proudly representing my flag today.”
Though he broke the championship record, Amos wanted more. “Actually I was expecting more competition today,” he said.
The 18-year-old national record holder will certainly get more competition come the Olympic Games, where he will represent his nation in the same event.
Amos’s gold medal is the first gold Botswana has ever won at the meet, and only the second medal of any kind (the only other was a 400m bronze by Obakeng Ngwigwa in 2004).
Kitum ran 1:44.59 for the silver, Melly 1:44.79 for the bronze.
Today’s action completed the six-day competition which is held every two years. The next edition will be held a the University of Oregon in Eugene in the United States.