NAIROBI, Kenya, July 29- Joyce Chepkirui and former World Junior champion, Faith Chepng’etich tore the form book to scale the heights to Commonwealth glory Tuesday in the women 10,000m and 1500m finals, as Kenya produced a podium sweep in the former to double her gold tally to four on a memorable night in Glasgow.
The riveting evening session of track and field action at a packed Hamden Park left Kenya trailing Jamaica in the overall standings in athletics with 4 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze against the sprinting giants’ tally of 5 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze.
Chepkirui produced the first monumental upset of the day when she stole the gold medal from the grip of overwhelming favourite, Florence Kiplagat in a lifetime best of 32:09.35 on the line before Chepng’etich, barely out of her teens, reproduced the performance that made her a feared junior athlete to floor a cast that included runaway bet, Hellen Obiri, to claim the top medal in 4:08.94.
Chepkirui pick-pockets the gold
From six laps of the 25 to go, the race was reduced to an internal competition between Chepkirui the understudy, Kiplagat and the two-time World Cross champion, Emily Chebet, but at the bell all the way to the home-straight, it was the two-time Berlin Marathon winner who looked poised to fulfil her favourite role and land the honours.
However, Chepkirui, fifth at the 2010 World Half Marathon Championships had other ideas, keeping close to the 2009 World Cross champion when she bolted with 200m to go with a glance to the stadium’s big screen before getting on her inside and picking her pocket for the gold by the thickness of a vest only two steps from the line in a lifetime best of 32:09.35.
“I’m so so happy it was Kenya for one, two and three. It was so close near the end but I knew my body was in good shape,” said Chepkirui. I’m happy I could win at my first Commonwealth Games,” Chepkirui said.
Kiplagat, who stumbled across the line and fell in the almost photo finish took silver in 32:09.58 as Chebet, who had long settled for the third medal confirmed it in 32:10.82, a career best in another imposing distance running masterclass from Kenya.
The beaming Kenyans who received warm applause from the Hampden Park crowd for given them a memorable race went on a lap of honour chuckling about the dramatic climax.
From the onset with Kiplagat playing the role of captain, the Kenyans went out in front and cut the field into two with 15-laps to go as Ugandan pair, Toroitich Chebet and Vanis Chemutai as well as home runner, Beth Potter paid close attention.
The two-time Berlin winner, Chepkirui, whose only other medal for Kenya before her crowning moment was 1500m silver at the 2011 All Africa Games and Chebet took turns to push the pace before the home crowd was roused to applause when Potter took charge and led the field until seven and a half laps to go.
Kiplagat led her compatriots to ease past her in a turn of pace that effectively killed the competition and for the next 1200m to the bell, the Kenyans opened the gap between them and the challengers to an insurmountable lead but all bets were off in the final lap.
With 300m, the favourite deployed the afterburners but could not build the significant lead over Chepkirui who hang on her coattails before a trailing runner with 40m to go saw Kiplagat step outside.
That gave the winner a chance to get inside and push for gold, completing the upset when Kiplagat’s lunge to the line only saw her tumble to silver in a breathtaking conclusion.
England’s Kate Avery who motored from the back won a neck-to-neck battle for fourth against Potter with 32:33.35 against 32:33.36, both lifetime bests as the Ugandans Chebet (32:41.95) and Chemutai (33:11.98) coming home further back in sixth and eighth.
Leap of faith lands Chepng’etich title
The transition of double World Cross and 2012 World 3000m junior champion, Chepng’etich, 20, into the senior ranks was crowned in emphatic fashion when she uncorked a brilliantly executed victory in the women 1500m race.
Having set the fastest time in the semis, it was her compatriot Hellen Obiri, the Worlds 1500m bronze winner and World Indoors 3000m silver medallist who came in as the athlete to beat with the third Kenyan in the race, Selah Busienei completing the prospect of another podium sweep.
The race started at pedestrian pace, with the Kenyan trio converging at the lead until the bell when Chepng’etich and Obiri started to push the pace with Busienei dropping back.
At the back-straight, the African senior Cross champion held a slim lead over the favourite but it all altered dramatically at the homestretch when Obiri ran out of steam.
Chepng’etich stepped on the gas for glory as England’s Laura Weightman (4:09.24) followed her home for silver with fast finishing Canadian Kate van Buskirk (4:09.41) closing the podium. Obiri, who came in at the back of a solid sequence of victories in the IAAF Diamond League, slumped back to sixth (4:10.84) as Busienei took the wooden spoon (4:17.88).