MONCTON, Canada, July 20- Kenya's Mercy Cherono brilliantly defended her 3000 metres title winning the first gold medal of the 13th IAAF World Junior Championships in Canada on Tuesday morning.
Cherono in a race which went to the wire, won in a World leading time for the year of 8:55.07 when although finishing very quickly herself, she had to withstand blistering finishes from Emebet Anteneh who clocked a personal best 8:55.24 and Layes Abdullayeva who set a Azerbaijan record of 8:55.33.
"It feels so good, I was so happy because I defended my gold," said Cherono on a hot and humid Moncton evening. "The best part was that I felt so comfortable out there.
"My plan was to defend my gold, but the race was difficult because of the weather," added Cherono surprised she didn’t with her finishing pace win by a bigger margin: "I expected to have more of a lead."
Cherono the pre-race favourite was always in contention and after a very sedate first kilometre of 3:08.81, produced a sound tactical move at 1600m which split the field into a pack of six.
It wasn’t a decisive break by the 19-year-old who first showed her vast potential for the future when winning the 2007 IAAF World Youth Championship 3000 gold medal and then successfully stepped up an age group in Bydgoszcz the following summer.
The group with the improvement in pace and Cherono at the point, went through 2000 swiftly in 6:02.88 and approaching the bell (9:52.96) all of them were still in contention with Cherono definitely looking the most comfortable.
Indeed sticking to the inside of the track she resisted a surge from Anteneh with just under 300m remaining and when on the final bend her fellow African put in another kick, she again fought off the challenge.
Cherono erupted coming into the home straight but not only Anteneh was hot on her heels but Abdullayeva who three metres adrift, brilliantly closed rapidly on the pair and looked set for a surprise victory.
But Cherono who notched up a 62.11sec final lap kept her nerve as she did two years ago to win by by the narrowest of margins from Anteneh and 19-year-old Abdullayeva.
Now Cherono this year’s IAAF World Junior Cross Country champion on a second return to Bydgoszcz future career looks exceedingly bright and already she is being groomed for stardom by her inclusion in the Samsung Diamond League circuit.