Athletics Athletics

Obiri the lone wolf as Sum, Chepng’etich bow out


NAIROBI, Kenya, August 6- Olympics debutants Eunice Sum and World Junior champion, Faith Chepng’etich packed up out of London 2012 in quick succession on Tuesday with their ambitions being scorched in women 1500m heats.

Just like in Beijing four years ago, Kenya will have a lone wolf at the distance in the shape of Helen Obiri, the World Indoor 3000m titleholder who managed to escape the trapdoor by finishing fourth in the first race of the qualifiers.

She will be hoping to stun the world like titleholder, Nancy Jebet Langat who pulled out of the Trials to end her defence when she lines-up in the semis on Wednesday and hopefully, the subsequent medal race on Friday.

Russia’s Tatyana Tomashova set the pace from the start and led through the splits (400-1:07.18; 800- 2:13.67; 1200m 3:18.97) as Obiri kept in touch among the leaders that included Osaka Worlds champion, Maryam Yusuf Jamal, Ethiopia’s world leader, Abeba Aregawi and home runner Hannah England.

As they came for the home straight, Aregawi’s (4:04.55) quality imposed itself on the field as Obiri (4:05.40) charged after the Ethiopian but the Kenyan was eventually reeled in by the Russian (4:05.10) and Jamal (4:05.39) as she contented in finishing fourth.

In the second heat, Sum, a finalist at last year’s Worlds where she competed in the 800m, paid for greenness in a painfully slow heat.

She timed her break wrong as she took off for the qualifying positions at the back straight but ran out of steam in the final 100m as they filed past her to push her down to ninth (4:16.95) and out of competition.

Britain’s Lisa Dobriskey (4:13.32), Morocco’s Siham Hilali (4:13.34) and Asli Çakir Alptekin (4:13.64) of Turkey filled the podium positions.

In the third and final heat, Chepng’etich endured a baptism of fire in a brave display that was just a place short of securing her passage to the semis after she set about the track in pacing the fastest heat of the day.

Going in front metres from the start, the World Junior, Youth and Cross titleholder led through to the last 300m when the more seasoned heads around her took over to force her down to ninth (4:08.78).

Her event produced the two fastest losers with eighth placed Australia’s Zoe Buckman (4:07.83) earning the last slot on time.

Chepng’etich who won Kenya the top medal in Barcelona last month in a championship record led through 400m (1:10.71), 800m (2:18.19) and 1200m (3:19.56) but her undoubted quality lacked the finishing touch.

It is therefore, a lesson richly learnt for the 17-year-old who remains one of her country’s best hopes at the distance for the future.