BEIJING, August 26 – Hyvin Kiyeng final lunge for the finish after the final barrier clinched the steeplechase double and the sixth gold medal for Kenya as the country maintained their lead at the top of the charts for a third day running on Wednesday.
Kiyeng reeled in and hauled back podium finishers, Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia who repeated her silver from Moscow and shock German bronze winner, Gesa Krause after the final barrier in an enthralling finish to the open race.
Her victory sealed a second successive steeplechase double for the country after Ezekiel Kemboi defended his men’s crown for the third successive time on Monday.
Javelin superstar, Julius Yego set the pace in style when he threw a monster 92.72m world lead to become the first Kenyan field event winner at the Worlds as Kiyeng, Diamond League winner, Virginia Nyambura and Rosefline Chepng’etich prepared to step into the Bird’s Nest.
Kiyeng, the national champion out-kicked Ghribi to take the honours in 9:19.11 in a close finish that saw Kenya maintain its dominance over the water and barrier event after Micah Chemos won it at the last edition in Moscow, Russia.
Ghribi took silver in 9:19.24 while German, Gesa Krause clocked 9:19.25 to run her personal best.
“I still had the energy after the last barrier and I sprinted to the finish line. I’m really happy to win the sixth gold for my country.
“Chemos had warned us about Ghribi before we came her so we knew what to expect,” the freshly coined queen of the water and barriers race told reporters after the race.
World leader, Nyambura who was favourite faded to seventh after returning 9:26.21 while former World Youth champion, Chepng’etich took the wooden spoon (9:46.08) on her first international outing as a senior.
“It was not my day since I was expecting to finish in the medals. I’m still young and a bright future lies ahead. I want to end the season well in the Diamond League,” the downcast Nyambura, a protege of Chemos who started her season as a rabbit added.
The Kenyans had to face the inevitable questions of doping after their teammates, Joy Zakari (women 400m) and Francesca Koki (women 400m Hurdles) returned positive tests for banned substances at the competition.
“It is very disappointing. Most of us do not use performance enhancing drugs. I know I’m clean and happy to end the day on a good note,” Kiyeng who massively improved from her sixth position in Moscow to glory in China underlined.
Running from the middle of the pack that was led by early Indian pace setter, Lalita Babar, in the opening three laps, Kiyeng moved to the outside lane with 600m to go as American Emma Coburn took control of the race.
At the bell, it was anybody’s race before Ghribi took off to open the leading pack of five as Nyambura tried to catch up but she could manage to find the gears.
That left a three-woman battle to the finish line where Kiyeng powered through for her first gold in major competition.
The result saw Kenyan already surpass Moscow best of five gold, with five days left after pushing their tally to 11 medals, six gold, three silver and two bronze.
1 561 Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi KEN 9:19.11
2 815 Habiba Ghribi TUN 9:19.24
3 434 Gesa Felicitas Krause GER 9:19.25 PB
4 335 Sofia Assefa ETH 9:20.01 SB
5 872 Emma Coburn USA 9:21.78
6 336 Hiwot Ayalew ETH 9:24.27
7 572 Virginia Nyambura Nganga KEN 9:26.21
8 466 Lalita Shivaji Babar IND 9:29.64
9 883 Stephanie Garcia USA 9:31.06
10 601 Salima Elouali Alami MAR 9:32.15