BYDGOSZCZ, Poland, July 21 – Kenya’s hopes of bagging a second gold medal at the IAAF World U20 Championships were dashed after favourite Sadrafelis Chebet finished fifth in the women’s 3000m final on Wednesday night.
Despite starting well, Chebet faded off the leading pack with three laps to go to clock a personal best of 8: 55.77 seconds.
Ethiopian Beyenu Degefa won gold in a course record of 8:41.76 seconds ahead of Dalila Abdulkadir of Bahrain while German Konstanze Klosterhalfen clinched bronze.
Powered by a 61.9-second closing lap, Degefa captured the women’s 3000m title, the first gold medal at the championships for Ethiopia.
Biding her time in the lead pack for most of the race as Klosterhalfen dictated the tempo, the 17-year-old didn’t move into the lead until just two strides before the bell sounded for the final lap.
Illustrating 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.
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 second in 8:46.42. 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 said. “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.
Tesfay was fourth a few steps back in a career best of 8:47.46. Further back, Kenyans Chebet and Sheila Chelangat were fifth and sixth in 8:55.77 and 8:59.89 respectively, marking the first time in 14 years that Kenya didn’t win a medal in this event.