NAIROBI, July 17 – Kenyans are braced to celebrate their first gold in the early hours of Saturday morning as the 9th IAAF World Youth Championships enter their third day in Cali, Colombia.
African record holder, Sandrafelis Chebet and compatriot Celliphine Chepteek Chespol who trails her in the World Youth lead charts have the task of adding to the medal tally in the girls’ 2000m steeple chase final.
The other final will see Kumari Taki and Lawi Kosgei battle it out in the boys’ 1500m final with Taki setting the heats ablaze when he ran the fastest time of the preliminaries.
Emily Chebet Kipchumba and Sheila Chelangat gave Kenya the first medals on Wednesday after bagging silver and bronze behind Ethiopia’s Shuru Bulo in the girls’ 3000m final.
Favourites Chebet and Chepteek are tipped to bag gold and silver after victoriously breezing through their heats on Wednesday to set up a fascinating final that has Ethiopians Beletu Hailu and Beletu Hailu as the competition-in-chief.
African champion, Kumari enters as the rank favourite after winning heat 2 in 3:48.71 ahead of Ethiopia’s Welde Tufa (3:49.71) who also qualified.
Kosgei, who qualified from the heat 1 in 3:53.87 after finishing second behind Ethiopian Mulugata Assefa (3:52.97) with the quartet vying for the three medals on offer after putting daylight between them and the rest of the world.
In Friday night’s girls’ 800m semi, Kenya will be represented by Mary Kalekye Malika who qualified as a fastest loser (2:09.77) after finishing sixth in heat 1 behind winner Gadese Ejarab of Ethiopia (2:06.26).
The other Kenyan in the race Betty Cheokemoi failed to make the cut after finishing fifth in Heat 4 (2:12.05).
In the girls’ 1500m, Joyline Cherotich ran her Personal Best of 4:19.96 to qualify for Saturday’s final after crossing the line third behind winner Dalila Abdulkadir of Bahrain (4:19.34) and Ethiopian Bedatu Hirpa (4:19.34).
Cherotich was joined by Janeth Chepngetich who automatically sailed through from Heat 1 where she crossed the line second (4:32.03) behind Adanech Anbesa (4:28.70) of Ethiopia who won the slowest heat.
On Thursday, the boys’ 3000m heats saw African title holder, Davis Kiplangat and Richard Yator qualify without much sweat to Sunday’s final after they both won their heats.
Ethiopian hopes of retaining the title won two years ago by Yomif Kojelcha lie with Tefera Mosisa (8:07.53) and Abayneh Degu (8:20.08) who finished the well-beaten runner-ups.
Other qualifiers for Saturday’s final will see African champion Kipyegon Bett (1:47.11) lead the Kenyan charge in the corresponding boy’s lap-race after emerging victorious in the first semi-final while Willy Kiplimo Tarbei cruised from semi-final 2 (1:48.68) to line up a possible gold and silver.
The pair are yet to better their stunning PBs they set at the National Trials where, newcomer Tarbei blasted to a staggering 1:44.51 ahead Kipyegon’s 1:44.55.
Kenya’s hopes of winning a medal in sprint for the first time in the competition open to athletes aged 16 and 17, went up in smoke after Josphat Kipngetich Ngeno and Edwin Ngeeti were bundled out in the boys’ 400m.
In the girls’ event, Purity Joy Chepkoech bowed out after finishing last in her heat.