Wambui wows, Barega spoils the Kenyan party at WU18

Jackline Wambui and Lydia Jeruto fly the Kenyan flag after claiming a 1,2 finish in the ...
Jackline Wambui and Lydia Jeruto fly the Kenyan flag after claiming a 1,2 finish in the girls' 800m at the WU18 championships in Kasarani. (PHOTO/Kelly Ayodi/S[ortpicha.com)

It was a double victory for Kenya on the final day the World Under 18 Championships after harvesting two gold medals in the girls’ 800m and the boys’ 2000m steeplechase events on Sunday.

Jackline Wambui gave her home fans something special to cheer about as she produced a sensational race in the girls’ 800m, leading compatriot Lydia Jeruto to a Kenyan 1, 2 finish in Kasarani, Nairobi.

Wambui brought the packed to capacity facility to rapturous applause as she delivered Kenya’s third gold medal with a winning time of 2:01.46 ahead of teammate Jeruto (2:02.06). Ethiopia’s Hirut Meshesha closed the podium finish in 2:06.32.

“I had prayed for victory and that is what I got. I’m very excited and feel motivated to achieve more in futures. I thank Kenyans for turning out in numbers to cheer us. It gave me the strength and power to go on,” Wambui, the freshly minted champion said.

Unlike their counterparts in the boys’ 800m final on Saturday, Wambui and Jeruto were composed and kept close tabs with the Ethiopians in the first lap. After the bell the two moved to the outer lane and took charge of the race till the finish line.

In the boys’ 3000m finals, a dramatic finish saw Ethiopian Selemon Barega (7:47.16) deny Kenya a second 1, 2 on the trot when he edged Eddie Zakayo (7:49.17) and Stan Waithaka (7:50.64) for the gold medal.

“The race was tough, after Waithaka was tripped and fell, we could not go on with our strategy. As for Barega, he emerged the best among us but I’m going to work harder. I’m not planning giving him another opportunity at next year’s World Junior Championships,” said Zakayo in his postrace interview.

Leonard   Kipkemboi Bett and Cleophas Kandie Meyan had the whole stadium standing on their feet as they cheered on top of their voices in the boys 2000m steeplechase event.

Bett, extended Kenya’s dominance over the distance after stopping the timer at 5:32.52 for top podium place followed closely by Cleophas Kandie Meyan who clocked 5:33.07 second podium place. Their Ethiopian archrivals settled for a bronze medal from Alemu Kitessa (5:42.10).

“The race went as planned. I thank God for the double victory. We decided to finish the Ethiopians by increasing the pace because we knew they did not have the finishing power. So we stayed at the front so that we control the race and be in the medal bracket,” said Bett.

Kenya finished fourth in the medal table with a total of 15 medals; four gold, seven silver and four bronze medals.

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