By ELIAS MAKORI
The next two days will bear great significance to Kenya’s medal hopes at the 15th IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships in TrackTown USA.
With Uganda and Ethiopia both having struck gold, Team Kenya find themselves in an unfamiliar position of having to dig deep to scale higher the medal table after panning just one silver and two bronze medals in the opening two days.
Thursday evening in Eugene (Friday morning in Kenya) will see Kenyans go hunting in four finals inside one hour from 7:45pm (5:45am, Kenyan time) in the men’s 400 metres (Alexander Sampao), women’s 800 metres (Maximila Imali, Margaret Wambui), women’s 3,000m (Lilian Kasait Rengeruk, Valentine Chepkwemoi Matieko) and men’s 1,500m (Hilary Cheruiyot Ngetich, Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe).
Then on Friday, Kenyans will line up in the men’s 5,000m final (Frederick Kipruto, Moses Mukono) besides competing in qualifying races in the men’s steeplechase, women’s 1,500m and men’s 800m final.
Meanwhile, when many thought they had seen the backs of Ethiopia’s world-beating women stars with the fading away of multiple world and Olympic champions and record holders Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba, there was a surprise in store in the 5,000 metres at Hayward Field on Wednesday night.
The Ethiopian pair of Alemitu Haroye and Alemitu Hawi pounded the track in synchronised running, akin to two professional cyclists of a tandem bike, to take gold and silver, leaving the minor medal to Kenya.
Haroye won in 15:10.08 seconds while Hawi posted 15:10.46, her Personal Best, for silver, leaving Kenya’s Agnes Tirop a distant third in 15:43.12, but this despite a nagging thigh injury.
“It was a good contest,” race winner Haroye, who out-sprinted her compatriot with 40 metres to go, said. “The conditions in the beginning were not good, but it got better towards the end.”
Kenya’s Tirop, an 18-year-old Form One student at Kosirai Girls High School, braved a late injury sustained here to fight for the bronze medal.
“I did not expect to even get the bronze due to my injury and I’m delighted,” said Tirop, whose training partner is younger sister and Form One classmate at Kosirai, Vivian.
“I will now focus on next year’s World Cross Country Championships and the World Championships — I want to be like Cheruiyot (former double world champion Vivian).”
At the close of competition on Wednesday, the most unlikely of contenders, the Czech Republic, topped the medals table with two gold medals as Kenya was placed eighth, with one silver and two bronze medals.
There was a surprise win on Wednesday in the 100m race, where USA’s Kendall Williams (10.21) floored World junior record holder Trayvon Bromell (10.28) in the 100m final, with the bronze going to Japanese youngster Yoshihide Kiryu (10.34).
Barbados’s Akela Jones won the long jump, with Great Britain’s Morgan Lake scoring 6,148 points, a personal best, to win the heptathlon.
Courtesy of nation.co.ke