NAIROBI, July 16- Kenya started her 9th IAAF World Youth Championships campaign on a silver lining as the medal chase opened on Wednesday night in Cali, Colombia.
Emily Chebet Kipchumba and Sheila Chelangat were forced to accept the second and third medals by Ethiopia’s Shuru Bulo in the girls’ 3000m final.
Kenya surrendered a title they have held in six of the previous eight editions in the event’s history during the first distance running showdown between the East African archrivals as Ethiopia shot to the summit of the early medal table.
Lilian Kasait Rengeruk was the outgoing champion with Commonwealth 5000m champion, Mercy Cherono, still holding the championship record when she won the World Youth crown in 8:53.94 at the 2007 edition in Ostrava.
It was surprising the girls’ 3,000m title went to an Ethiopian, though the fact it was relatively unheralded Shuru Bulo who sprinted to victory in 9:01.12 – and not her favoured teammate Letesenbet Gidey – proved one of the biggest upsets on day one of the Cali World Youth.
Kipchumba, with Chelangat running on her shoulder, raced straight to the front and took the field through 1000m in a steady 3:01.38.
At that point, the Ethiopians were content to play the waiting game, Gidey sheltering on the inside behind the Kenyans with Bulo running alongside her.
Japan’s Yuka Mukai, Australia’s Annabel McDermott and Bahrain’s Fatuma Chebsi were the only three who went with the East Africans, but by the time the leaders reached 2000m in 6:05.53, they had already drifted back.
With 600 metres to run, Bulo showed her hand for the first time, passing Chelangat and running together with Kipchumba at the front.
As they reached the bell, Kipchumba began pouring on the pace, trying her best to lead every step of the way.
Though her effort soon had Gidey and teammate Chelangat in trouble, it had little effect on the smooth-striding Bulo, who clung to Kipchumba’s shoulder as they entered the back straight for the final time.
With 200 metres to run, Bulo finally changed gears and swept past Chebet, who briefly tried in vain to go with the Ethiopian.
In the end, though, the turn of pace was simply too much and Bulo came home a clear winner in 9:01.12, a 2015 world youth leading time.
She becomes just the second Ethiopian to triumph in this event, after Gotyom Gebreslase four years ago in Lille.
After all her front-running, Kenya’s national junior champion Kipchumba was rewarded with a silver medal for her efforts, finishing in 9:02.92.
The battle for bronze was won by Chelangat, who edged world junior cross country champion Gidey in the run to the line, 9:04.54 to 9:04.64.
Favourites Sandra Felis Chebet and Celliphine Chepteek Chespol led the queue to the girls’ 2000m steeples chase final on Friday after victoriously breezing through their heats as the men 1500m boys’ pair of Kumari Taki and Lawi Kosgei punched their tickets to the semis.
The boys’ 1500m heats went entirely to form with Ethiopia’s Mulugata Assefa looking comfortable when winning the first heat in 3:52.97, followed home by Kenya’s Lawi Kosgei (3:53.87) .
Kosgei’s compatriot Kumari Taki then won reversed matters and won the second heat in 3:48.71, with Ethiopia’s Welde Tufa (3:49.71) second.
Given this quartet’s pedigree and impressive showing in the heats, it would be a huge surprise if anyone else was among the medals.
An encouraging showing in the sprints on Day 1 of the age global showpiece open to competitors limited to between 16 and 17 years saw Edwin Ngeeti and Josphat Kipng’etich Ngeno advance to the semis later Thursday.
Ngeeti (47.47) was the faster of the two Kenyans and finished third in Heat 5 with Kipng’etich (47.72) also rounding the top three in the next race with their work cut out to make the bracket of two automatic qualifiers from the three semis or the lottery of the fastest two losers to make the medal showdown in the early hours of Saturday.
In the corresponding girls’ lap-race Purity Joy Chepkoech clocked 56.12 for third in her heat to qualify for the semis.
Emmanuel Kipyegon Langat sprung the fourth fastest time of the heats in winning the fourth preliminary in 51.70 in the 400m Hurdles to make the semis with teammate Nicholus Kiprotich Chirchir bowing out at the first hurdle.
-Compiled from IAAF.ORG