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Elusive gold as Tirop bows to Ethiopian might

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HAROYE-EUGENENAIROBI, Kenya, July 24- Agnes Tirop failed in her bid to emulate her close pal Faith Chepng’etich as a World Junior Championships gold medallist when she collected her second successive bronze during the women 5000m finals in Eugene, Oregon.

Tirop bowed to the Ethiopian might of the unrelated Alemitus- Haroye and Hawi- who took gold and silver as Day 2 of riveting action at the Hayward Field concluded with Kenya yet to hear their national anthem played at the historic stadium.

The medallists returned 15:10.08, 15:10.46 and 15:43.12 as the Kenyan was reduced to the role of leading the challengers’ home once the Ethiopian pair dislodged from the competition with five laps to go before deciding the top two medals in an internal contest.

Tirop, who also won the third medal in Barcelona two years ago, said post race her progress was checked by injury as she prepares to graduate to senior running next season without realised her dream to rule the world as a junior.

“I feel good about the race. I had a leg injury, coming into the Championships, so I’m happy with the bronze. There is a lot of training ahead, because now I will start to compete as a senior athlete,” she told the IAAF.

There was no indication of the injury before she departed for Oregon, stating her desire to follow in the golden footsteps of Chepng’etich, who reigned supreme over 1500m in Barcelona, after they met in the run-up to Spain and struck a close bond.

“We met at the Barcelona World Juniors in 2012 and ran together at the Poland World Cross again the following year and this year, we were in Kampala (Africa Cross). She has motivated me a lot. We are both small and we became close and she would tell me I will win like her.

“She talks to me a lot and she has asked me to graduate to the seniors with the World Junior gold. That is what I want to do and God willing, it will happen in Eugene,” the Form 1 student at Kosirai High School in Uasin Gishu County said before the Kenyan contingent left for Oregon.

Haroye over Hawi

Haroye and Hawi who share the given name Alemitu, upped the pace in the third kilometre, covered in 2:52.88, the fastest 1000m in the race, to build an insurmountable lead over Tirop before the went on to moonlight their illustrious senior compatriots, Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar after the bell.

The duel for glory which lasted over the final three laps was only decided a few metres from the line.

The fastest junior in the world this year, Haroye ran the third fastest time in the history of the championships to claim her first global title; her best international performance before her arrival in Eugene being when she finished one place behind Tirop in Bydgoszcz.

“This race was a good contest. The conditions in the beginning weren’t that good, but it got better towards the end. I’m really happy. After this, God only knows what will come next, but the door is open,” the champion, who won Ethiopia’s seventh women 5000m gold in ten editions of this event, said.

“It was a good race. There was a bit of wind but the last lap was wonderful. I’m happy to be a silver medal winner and just happy overall,” the silver winner added.

Elsewhere, Overall team captain, Alex Sampao, ran 46.21 to make the final of the men 400m as the third fastest behind Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago and home runner, Tyler Brown who clocked 45.90 and 45.97.

Sampao, who trailed all finalists home at last year’s World Youth championships, was second behind Brown in the first heat.

Margaret Wambui ran her personal best as compatriot Maximila Imali qualified for the women 800m final as a fastest loser in the semis of their event.

Wambui ran 2 minutes, 3.72 seconds to emerge the second fastest qualifier for the finals after finishing second to Cuban Sahily Diago in the first semi as Imali held on for fourth in the other to qualify as one of the two fastest losers in 2 minutes, 5.37 seconds.

Nafuna Nalyanya’s competition in the women 400m heats ended in disqualification as Stephen Kipkoech also saw his dreams in the 400m Hurdles crushed by sixth finish in the eighth heat.

Medal rush expected

Kenya, who lie eighth in the overall standings with a silver and a bronze, look forward to landing her first honours in early Friday’s action.

Sampao will be out first at 5:45am Kenyan time in the 400m final with Wambui and Imali following soon after at 6:00am.

World Youth champion, Lilian Kasait, will hope to climb the next step and win the World Juniors gold when she and compatriot Valentina Chepkwemoi take to the track for the women 3000m final.

The medal hunt will be completed by the men 1500m duo of Hillary Cheruiyot, who won silver in Barcelona two years and in form Jonathan Sawe, who beat him to the line at the Trials for Oregon besides running the fastest time at the semis of 3:38.61.

That race will start at 6:40am.

-Material from iaaf.org used in this report

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