NAIROBI, Kenya, July 28- Alfred Kipketer and Bernard Kipyego lifted their proud nation to finish second overall by breezing to men 800m and 3000m steeplechase gold as the thrilling World Junior Championships wrapped up in Eugene, Oregon early Monday.
Kipketer added the World Junior crown to the World Youth gold he won last year by clinching victory in a staggering 1:43.95 win, the second fastest ever at the World Juniors and sixth quickest of all time at the historic Hayward Field track.
He led countryman Joshua Tiampati Masikonde to the third Kenyan 1-2 in the men’s 800m in the history of the competition as the country’s dominance of the two-lap race was restored.
Earlier, Kipyego led home his team-mate Titus Kipruto in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. Kipyego was clocked in 8:25.57; Kibiego crossed the line in 8:26.15.
Sheila Chepeng’etich scooped bronze in the women 1500m in 4:11.12 as Kenya closed the final day with five medals to move from fourth to second with 4 gold, 5 silver and 7 bronze behind hosts USA who bagged 10 gold, 5 silver, 5 bronze to top the charts.
Kipketer storms to glory
In the men 800m final, the Kenyan duo set a blistering pace from the start, covering the first 200m in 23.59 and the first lap in 49.42, about five meters ahead of the rest of the field.
After the 600m mark, covered in 1:16.51, Kipketer started to move away from Masikonde and went on to win in 1:43.95, close to the championship record of 1:43.79, set by Botswana’s Nigel Amos in 2012.
Kipketer’s time moved him to the ninth on the world junior all-time list.
Masikonde held on to secure silver in a personal best of 1:45.14 ahead of fast-finishing Andreas Almgren, who set a Swedish junior record of 1:45.65 to take bronze.
Seventeen-year-old Kipketer added his gold in Eugene to the world youth title from last year. He was part of the winning 4x800m Kenyan squad at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau and became the ninth Kenyan man to win the global junior gold in the distance.
Only five other athletes have run faster than him at Hayward Field.
Kipyego retains Kenya’ race
Kipyego made the pace for much of the race, keeping the tempo from dawdling and leading the surges which trimmed the lead group down.
He led through the initial kilometre split of 2:53.56; it was Kibiego’s turn to lead at the second split of 5:42.81.
The pack narrowed to the two Kenyans, world youth champion Meresa Kahsay of Ethiopia, and Bahrain’s Evans Rutto Chematot, but with two laps remaining Kahsay began to get left behind.
“With three laps to go I saw I was no longer with the Kenyans,” Chematot explained later, although he remained close up to the bell when Kibiego passed him for good.
It was Kipyego who took off on the last lap, with Kibiego shadowing him but unable to get ahead.
Kipyego stepped smoothly over the last water jump, which Kibiego hurdled a little ineptly, slowing him down a bit. Kipyego got over the final barrier more smoothly, giving him a slight advantage he held to the finish.
“Leading from the start to the end is what we had planned,” Kipyego explained. “This event is for Kenyans.”
Ethiopian pair, Dawit Seyaum (4:09.86) and Gudaf Tsegay (4:10.83) proved a class above Chepng’etich who held on for the third medal in the women 1500m as teammate, Wilfred Mbithe (4:13.80) ran a career best for seveth.
Margaret Nyairera (women 800m) and Jonathan Sawe (men 3000m) are the other gold winners from Oregon.
-Material from IAAF used in this report
Margaret Nyairera Wambui W 800 Metres
Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe M 1500 Metres
Barnabas Kipyego M 3000 Metres Steeplechase
Alfred Kipketer M 800 Metres
Elvis Kipchoge Cheboi M 10,000 Metres
Lilian Kasait Rengeruk W 3000 Metres
Rosefline Chepngetich W 3000 Metres Steeplechase
Titus Kipruto Kibiego M 3000 Metres Steeplechase
Joshua Tiampati Masikonde M 800 Metres
Nicholas Mboroto Kosimbei M 10,000 Metres
Agnes Jebet Tirop W 5000 Metres
Valentina Chepkwemoi W 3000 Metres
Hillary Cheruiyot Ngetich M 1500 Metres
Moses Letoyie M 5000 Metres
Daisy Jepkemei W 3000 Metres Steeplechase
Sheila Chepngetich Keter W 1500 Metres