NAIROBI, Kenya, July 21 – African Youth record holder Kumari Taki ensured Kenya bagged her second gold medal on the third day of the competition at IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland after winning the men’s 1500m in a dramatic fashion on Thursday.
Taki, a World Youth champion turned on the after-burners on the homestraight to claim gold in a photo finish time of 3:48.63 despite diving at the at the finishing line.
“I knew that the Ethiopian had a stronger kick than me so I had to dive at the line, and I made it,” said Taki, whose 3:36.38 from last year’s final in Cali remains his personal best. “I wanted this for a long time.”
Ethiopia’s Taresa Tolosa crossed the line second in 3:48.77 to bag silver ahead of Kenyan Anthony Kiptoo who settled for bronze in 3:49.00.
Starting on the inside in the race that had a lot of physical contact in the early stages, Taki was nearly tripped down after being boxed in, but he managed to find an angle to move outside and closing on the leading pack.
With two laps to go, Taki made his move up to the shoulders of Australian Matthew Ramsden who was leading alongside one of the two Ethiopians in the fields Asres Guadie as the pace increased.
As they pushed along the back straight of the stadium, Frenchman Baptiste Mischler took over but Taki responded as they approached the bell in 2:55.36.
Heading to the back straight, the contest became a sprint affair with Kiptoo managing to dash from the inside to follow his compatriot with 150m to go as Taki dug deep.
Tolosa found some energy to hold back Kiptoo as he looked to finish strong but Taki refused at the finish line to extraordinary claim the gold in a dramatic fashion after diving just meters to the line.
There were more positive results in the sprints for Kenya as Geoffrey Kiprotich ran his fastest time ever to book a slot in the men’s 400m final after winning heat three in 45.38 last.
In the corresponding women’s final, Maureen Thomas found the going tough, finishing fifth in 52.09 while in the women’s 800m, Betty Chepkemoi settled seventh in a time of 2:03.61.
In Friday’s main race, Kiprotich will be out to emulate his senior Nicholas Bett as he hopes to bring home the rare 400m gold.