Kenyans missed out on the medals in the women 3000m final on Wednesday night as northern arch rivals Ethiopia landed their first gold when a scorching closing lap of 61.9 seconds saw Beyenu Degefa capture the title as day 2 of the IAAF World Under 20 Championships closed in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
World Youth medallists, Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei and Sheila Chelangat ran to their lifetime bests could not live up with the pace and explosive conclusion, being pushed further down the order in fifth (8:55.77) and sixth (8:59.89) as Kenya missed out on the podium for the first time in 14 years.
Beyenu blew the ticker tape in her storming victory by setting a championship record of 8:41.76 as Germany took charge of the medal charts with two gold and a bronze ahead of Poland (two gold) and China (a gold and silver) with Kenya down in sixth (one gold) courtesy of Ronald Kwemoi’s opening day men 10000m victory.
Bahraini runner, Dalila Abdulkadir Gosa (8:46.42) and German Konstanze Klosterhalfen (8:46.74) took silver and bronze in setting their national Under 20 records with fourth placed Ethiopian, Fotyen Tesfay (8:47.46) finishing just outside the medals in a personal best.
llustrating an impressive turn of speed, Degefa quickly built a gap that was never threatened, one she extended over the final 200 metres – which she covered in 30 seconds flat – en route to an 8:41.76 run, taking down in the process the 8:46.86 championship record held by China’s Zhang Linli since 1992.
Boding well, the unheralded Degefa’s victory was only the second in the event for the east African powerhouse after Meseret Defar’s triumph in 2002 as Kenyans failed to deliver the title for the second edition in a row following the silver and bronze performances of Lilian Kasait and Valentina Chepkwemoi at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon two years ago when American Mary Cain stunned them to the gold.
Klosterhalfen, the European junior cross-country champion, took command from the gun, leading every lap except for the last. Covering the first 1000m in 3:03.98, she upped the tempo gradually over the next kilometre, bringing the field through 2000m in 5:59.96.
By then, just Degefa, her teammate Foyten Tesfay, Kenyan Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei, and world U20 leader Dalila Abdulkadir Gosa of Bahrain remained in contention behind the German, but none made any significant moves to take control.
When Degefa took off, Gosa followed and eventually held on for silver. While Klosterhalfen lost some ground on the pair, she managed to hold off Tesfay to take the bronze, clocking 8:46.74, a national U20 record.
“I wasn’t really expecting a medal,” Klosterhalfen told IAAF. “I expected the Africans to set a fast pace but they didn’t, so I decided to take the lead.” Klosterhalfen is also entered in the 1500m, but hasn’t yet decided whether to double back.
Kenyans Tuei and Chelangat were fifth and sixth marking the first time in 14 years that the country failed to win a medal in this event.
-Chepkemoi in finals-
Earlier, Betty Chepkemoi Sigei squeezed through to Thursday’s women 800m as one of the two fastest losers after landing third in her semi as compatriot Josephine Chelangat who was took the wooden spoon in her race became the first Kenyan to bow out from the biennial competition.
Chepkemoi ran 2:05.46 to finish well behind American Samantha Watson (2:04.50) and Canadian Victoria Tachinski (2:04.55) in the third semi and had to rely on the quickest qualifier route in an event destined to a contest between Europe and America for the top medal unless she produces a monumental upset to challenge for the medals.
Chelangat was never a factor in the race for the final when she slumped to 2:09.98 in the second semi won by Bahraini Marta Hirpato (2:05.09) with German Mareen Kalis (2:05.45) coming home behind her to take the automatic ticket in an event that did not produce a fastest loser.
Kenya’s hopeful in the women 400m, Maureen Thomas also made it to the medal showdown with a small ‘q’ after running 52.52 for third in the second semi won by Australian Jessica Thornton (52.12) in a personal best performance with Jamaica’s Junelle Bromfield (52.18) grabbing the second automatic qualifying slot.
On Thursday, attention shifts to World Youth and Olympics Youth Games gold medallist and favourite, Kumari Taki as he seeks to enhance his bludgeoning reputation by handing Kenya the second gold in the men 1500m final.
Taki who is seeded first will have Anthony Kiptoo for company in the medal chase.
TOP TEN RESULTS WOMEN 3000m
1 1208 Beyenu Degefa ETH 8:41.76 CR
2 1072 Dalila Abdulkadir Gosa BRN 8:46.42 NU20R
3 1288 Konstanze Klosterhalfen GER 8:46.74 NU20R
4 1214 Fotyen Tesfay ETH 8:47.46 PB
5 1425 Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei KEN 8:55.77 PB
6 1415 Sheila Chelangat KEN 8:59.89 PB
7 1673 Katie RAINSBERGER USA 9:00.62 PB
8 1405 Nozomi Tanaka JPN 9:01.16 PB
9 1396 Wakana Kabasawa JPN 9:10.20
10 1601 Fatma ARIK TUR 9:13.27 PB