NAIROBI, Kenya, July 13 – A fantastic final day effort by Kenyan youngsters saw them finish top at the World Youth Athletics Championship which ended in Italy on Sunday.Four quick fire gold medals catapulted the East African nation to the top of the rankings ahead of powerhouses USA, Great Britain and Russia.
Cherono Koech showed signs of following the patch created by Pamela jelimo and janeth Jepkosgei when she won the girls’ 800 metres with a fantastic burst of finishing pace in the final 200metres.
Koech running a perfect race decimated her PB of 2:05.71 when storming to a a new championship record replacing the 2:03.40 Mariya Shapaeva of Russia set in 2003, and a world leading time for the year of 2:01.67.
It was Kenya’s first 800 title since Flavious Kwamboka won four years ago in Marrakesh.
"I expected to win but I am still thrilled. I didn’t even know that I could run this fast," she added, surprised after setting a championship record.
Isiah Koech then continued Kenya’s golden afternoon by leading compatriot Deavid Bett to a 1-2 finish in the boy’s 3,000 metres.
Bett threw down the gauntlet opening up a gap of around 20m but Koech gradually roped him in and at the bell the pair of uninhibited front runners were shoulder to shoulder.
The taller figure of Koech was content to sit on his companion’s shoulder until unleashing his sprint finish to erase Ethiopia’s Abreham Cherkos’s six year old championship record and improving his world leader to 7:51.51.
Bett likewise substantially lowered his clocking 7:52.13 while Eritrea’s Goitom Kifle a distant third also ran his fastest ever time of 8:05.83.
The winner acknowledging Bett’s contribution, said: "We are focused on team work in Kenya and for it we have been rewarded with gold and silver."
Another Kenyan double in 1500
Gideon Mageka and Caleb Ndiku less than an hour later followed in the footsteps of their fellow 3000 gold and silver medallists Isiah Koech and David Beet with similar authoritive performances.
Their team running saw them dominate the race although with 800m remaining, arch Ethiopian rivals Girma Bekele and Zebene Alemayehu with Qatar’s Mohammed Al-Garni, tried to disrupt them.
Mageka and Ndiku with 250m remaining erupted, their massive injection of pace carrying them well clear to fight a domestic battle which continue until 50m from the line.
"This is my first proper international track meet which has motivated me more," said Mageka. "The race was really difficult because my team colleague pushed me.
"I come from a very simple home and now I want to have a (professional) career and my own manager."
Steeplechase also sees Kenya finish top
The gold and silver medal winning sequence of Kenya’s distance runners continued in the 2000 steeplechase where despite his shocking hurdling style Hillary Yego won ahead of Peter Lagat.
Yego who controlled the first two kilometres with a first cautious split of 2:46.89 then a much quicker 2:38.44, eventually took the title in a world leading time where striking seven seconds from his previous best he clocked 5:25.33 with Lagat clocking 5:26.59.
His authority was only questioned twice, initially when Ethiopia’s Desta Alermu tried to get on the Kenyan pair’s shoulders with 300m remaining and was quickly blown away and left to finish third in a PB 5:29.66.
Then approaching the final water jump Lagat with a better technique, jumped him and came into the home straight looking good for the gold medal.
Yego refused to throw in the towel and in the last 30m accelerated past his fellow countryman for a fully deserved victory.
"This was a very hard race but I wasn’t nervous at all," said Yego who trains with top Kenyan stars Edwin Soi and Patrick Terer.