NAIROBI, August 25- His name was nowhere when the roll-call of favourites for the men 400m Hurdles world title was written or read in the run-up to the Beijing IAAF World Championships.
However, everybody knows who Nicholas Bett is now after accomplishing the performance of Day four by giving his country a first gold medal at any distance below 800m at the grandest stage of all on Tuesday.
His 47.79 world leading winning time was a new national record, all the more overwhelming considering he was running in the unwanted lane 9 as he obliterated the previous record held by Eric Keter by 0.44 seconds that stood for 22 years.
“I decided to run very fast because when I slowed down in the semis, it was hard for me to clear some of the hurdles. Hurdles is not an easy event and I gave it my best and I’m happy and proud to be the first Kenyan to win this event at the World Championships.
“I dedicate this to my twins, a boy and a girl and I hope it will motivate other short distance athletes not to lose hope and make Athletics Kenya to take hurdles more seriously,” Kenya’s 46th gold medallist at the biennial showpiece and one of a kind said at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.
“I’m happy for David Rudisha but the performance of the day for Kenya is surely Bett’s victory in the 400m Hurdles. No one would have thought a Kenyan can win a short distance race, let alone the hurdles.
“This means we need to rethink how we prepare for next year’s Rio Olympics if you consider gold could come from Javelin. It is my hope Athletics Kenya will take this as the chance to overhaul the sport and invest more in events we are not used to winning.
“But it is a great day for Kenya and Bett,” Brother Colm O’Connell, coach to men 800m record holder, Rudisha who reclaimed the world crown also on Tuesday, told Capital Sport in the aftermath of the sensational groundbreaking triumph.
– No Panic-
Faced with the might of Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba in the women 1500m final, winning silver for Commonwealth titleholder, Faith Chepng’etich represented another step in her progression as a senior following a decorated junior career.
Chepng’etich is a two-time World Cross junior and World Junior championships winner and it is only a matter of time before the 20 year-old bags a big medal.
“I want to congratulate Faith. She is a beautiful girl from East Africa and also a good competitor. She is like my sister,” Genzebe, the third cog of the Dibaba running dynasty behind Ejegayehu and Tirunesh and is gunning for the double with the 5000m yet to come said in paying homage to her Kenyan challenger.
“When (Sifan) Hassan overtook, I did not panic because I knew I had the energy to kick. I thank God I won a silver medal for my country,” Chepng’etich told reporters at the mixed zone after running 4:08.96 for the second medal ahead of Dutch runner Hassan who rounded the podium in 4:09.34.
Having started the day on top of the world standings, Kenyan improved to four gold, three silver and two bronze medals to continue their stay on top of the pile in Beijing.
On Wednesday, Javelin star, Julius Yego will chase history in the final starting at 2:05pm Kenyan Time (+3GMT) as he bids to become the first Kenyan field athlete to land a medal at the Worlds.
Then the women 3000m steeplechase trio of IAAF Diamond League leader, former junior world champion, Rosefline Chepng’etich, and Hyvin Kiyeng will then seek to add to the tally starting at 4pm.