NAIROBI, July 14 – The national junior athletics team clinched three medals on the final day of the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz on Sunday to end the competition in third place in the overall standings.,
Jonathan Muia clinched gold in the men’s 3,000 metres steeplechase while Patrick Terer took bronze in the same race before Mathew Kisorio won silver in the men’s 5,000 metres.
Kenya ended the championships with four gold medals, five silvers and two bronze to relinquish the title they won in 2006 in Beijing. United States won the overall title with 11 gold, four silver and two bronze with Germany coming in second with six gold, one silver and three bronze.
In the first track event of the final session, Muia won a thrilling men’s 3000m steeplechase as he hunted and chased down long-time leader Benjamin Kiplagat of Uganda to win in a personal best of 8:17.28.
Kiplagat, the world leader, burst to the front from the gun and covered the first 1000m in 2:34.51. At one stage he held a 40m lead but as fatigue started to kick in Muia began to reel the long-time leader in.
The teenager finally caught and passed the fading Kiplagat at the final water barrier before kicking on to maintain his country’s 100 per cent record of having won every single men’s 3000m steeplechase at the World Junior Championships.
Muia said he knew he would have caught up with Kiplagat, "I expected I would catch the Ugandan because Kenyan runners just work harder."
Teren added: “I definitely thought he was going to catch him. One of the facts I know about him is that he has a good kick. We knew very well that Kiplagat was going to go away fast and we thought this was going to be an advantage to the Kenyan team. But it was not so much of an advantage that Kiplagat was so far clear.”
Kiplagat at least had the consolation of winning silver in 8:19.24, although he conceded his early pace may have been ill-judged.“I usually start quickly,” he said. “I like to have someone with me, though, so we can push together. I was not expecting to run 2:35 for the first kilometre, but 2:45. It was too fast – it was World record pace.”
“I was probably running too fast and then I had less power to win,” said Kiplagat.
Coach Boniface Tiren was full of praise of the 16-year-old winner. “With good guidance, he can run under eight minutes. He has a bright future,” said Tiren.
In the men’s 5,000 team captain Mathew Kisorio had to be content with silver behind Ethiopia’s Abreham Cherkos who set a championship record to win gold in 13:08.58.
Cherkos, who is ranked sixth on the all-time World junior lists with 12:54.19 in 2006, bided his time and preferred to sit in behind Kenya’s Matthew Kipkoech Kisorio, who set a ferocious pace.
The team is expected back in Nairobi on Wednesday afternoon.
Gold – Josphat Bett (10,000m), Mercy Cherono (3,000m), Christine Kambua Muyanga (3,000m steeplechase) and Jonathan Muia (3,000m steeplechase)
Silver – Titus Mbishei (10,000m), James Magut (1500m), Elizabeth Mueni (3,000m steeplechase), Mathew Kisorio (5,000m), Geoffrey Kibet (800m)
Bronze – Nelly Chebet (5,000m) and Patrick Terer (3,000m steeplechase).