NAIROBI, July 20- Vincent Kipyegon Ruto and Richard Yator Kimunyan closed the 2015 Cali World Youth Championships in golden fashion for Kenya as the distance-running superpower finished second overall in the standings on Sunday night.
Significantly as five-days of riveting track and field action came to a grandstand finish inside the Pascual Guerrero Stadium in the Colombian city, Kenyan officials proudly received the flag to host the 2017 edition in Nairobi in what officially launches preparations to welcome the world in two years time.
USA, with five gold entered the last day top of the pile followed by the famous red, green and black brigade on three gold, three silver and three bronze.
Ethiopia, further down the table in fourth, were on two gold and eyeing to topple their archrivals as the best African nation at the biennial age track and field showpiece.
Kenya’s position as the best in the continent was confirmed in two races that followed each other back to back, the boys’ 3000m and 2000m steeplechase finals.
– Yator nails it-
In a race that boiled down to a frantic three-way dash to the line, it was Yator who ultimately had the most gears and took the boys’ 3000m gold medal in 7:54.45.
Kimunyan led home a 1-2 for the long-distance masters, and it was the sixth time in nine editions of the IAAF World Youth Championships that the title has been won by Kenya.
His compatriot Davis Kiplangat – who had edged him in close finishes twice already this season – had to settle for silver in 7:54.52.
Ethiopia’s Tefera Mosisa took bronze in a personal best of 7:55.04 in a race where the East African dominance was rarely threatened.
The only athlete who made a genuine bid to break their stranglehold was Japan’s Hugo Endo, who ran with the leading quartet of Kenyans and Ethiopians through 2000m, which was reached in a swift 5:23.89.
In the end, though, Endo became a victim of his own ambition and slowed badly over the last two laps, ultimately finishing a distant fifth in 8:26.96.
At the front, the race was being controlled by the Kenyan duo, with Ethiopia’s Mosisa and Abayneh Degu nestling in their slipstream.
Kimunyan led into the final lap, with Kiplangat running on his shoulder, the pace gradually ratcheting up through each 100-metre segment.
With 200 metres to go, all four athletes were going at full speed. Something had to give, and the first to crack was Degu.
Once the three who remained entered the home straight, Mosisa moved out into lane two and powered up on the outside of the Kenyan pair but try as he might, he just couldn’t get past.
Kimunyan pumped his arms frantically and found an extra gear over the final 50 metres and he finished just inches in front of Kiplangat, with Mosisa a close third.
“The race was not too hard for me,” said Kimunyan. “The finish was very fast and I was strong. It’s great for Kenya, because my colleagues are used to winning.”
Kiplangat was also pleased with his silver medal. “I am very happy; it was a battle and there were a couple of other good fighters in there, so this is a good result.”
It was the fourth time in the last five editions of these championships that the Kenyans went 1-2 in the boys’ 3000m, a run of dominance that shows little sign of abating any time soon.
Kenya reclaimed the boys’ 2000m steeplechase final title from Ethiopia courtesy of a richly deserved aggressive front-running display by Kipyegon, who won in 5:27.58.
The diminutive Kenyan simply ran the legs off 2014 Youth Olympic Games champion Wogene Sebsibe to ensure Kenyan would bank gold in this event or the seventh time in nine editions of the World Youth.
It only took 500 metres for the two Kenyans, Ruto and Geofrey Rotich, and the Ethiopian pair of Sebisibe and Tegenu Mengistu to open up a clear advantage on the rest of the field, or should that be the rest of the world, as the final predictably formed into two separate races.
Ruto, the Kenyan youth champion, willingly hammered out the pace at the front with Mengistu the first of the lead contenders to raise the white flag, sliding off the back of the lead group as the leader hit 1000m in a rapid 2:43.03.
With two laps remaining, Rotich was the next to find the pace too hot to handle as the battle for the gold medal formed into a two-way fight.
Sebisibe, who had finished two places in front of Ruto when winning silver in the 3000m steeplechase at the African Junior Championships in March, was happy to track Ruto.
However, the Kenyan’s searing pace coupled with his greater technical proficiency over the barriers was to prove Sebisibe’s undoing.
Down the back stretch on the final lap the business-like Ruto – all pumping arms and legs – had opened up a decisive gap from which the Ethiopian, who was conceding significant ground over most hurdles, could not recover.
Ruto could bask in the glow of likely victory over the last half lap and secured gold with a winning time just a fraction outside of his lifetime best set at the Kenyan Youth Championships in Nairobi last month.
The fading Sebisibe was briefly challenged as the re-energised Rotich sniffed a potential silver medal, but the Ethiopian had enough in reserve to take second spot by 0.75 in 5:29.41.
Seven boys in the field set personal best times, including every finisher from second to sixth.
“The wind was a small problem during the race but I still produced my best performance,” said a delighted Ruto. “I always expected this victory.”
Kenya closed with 13 medals with a tally of 5-4-4 with the Americans taking top honours with 19 (8-5-6) as Japan (3-1-1) edged out fourth placed Ethiopia (2-3-3) to round off the top three.
-Compiled from IAAF.org
GOLD: Kumari Taki (boys’ 1500m), Celliphine Chepteek Chespol (girls’ 2000m steeple), Willy Kiplimo Tarbei (boys’ 800m), Richard Yator Kimunyan (boys’ 3000m), Vincent Kipyegon Ruto (boys’ 2000m steeple); SILVER: Emily Chebet Kipchumba (girls’ 3000m), Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei (2000m girls’ steeple), Kipyegon Bett (boys’ 800m), Davis Kiplangat (boys’ 3000m); BRONZE: Sheila Chelangat (girls’ 3000m), Lawi Kosgei (boys’ 1500m), Joyline Cherotich (girls’ 1500m), Geofrey Rotich (boys’ 2000m steeple)
1 United States 8 5 6 19
2 Kenya 5 4 4 13
3 Japan 3 1 1 5
4 Ethiopia 2 3 3 8
5 South Africa 2 2 1 5
6 Sweden 2 1 1 4
7 Germany 2 1 0 3
7 Russia 2 1 0 3
9 Cuba 2 0 2 4
10 Pr Of China 1 5 1 7