NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 14 – Having wowed the home crowd at the IAAF World U18 Championships to bag gold in the Boys 1500m on Friday night, George Meitamei has revealed that his elder brother, world silver medallist Elijah Manangoi played a big role in his victory.
With two Ethiopians taking control in the better part of race, Meitamei unleashed a late kick with 200m to the finish line to send fans into a frenzy as he stormed to victory in 3:47.53 and ensure Kenya not only retained the title it won in Cali, Colombia in 2015, but see Kenya open her gold account.
His compatriot Dominic Kipkemboi did not start the race after picking an injury during the semi-finals and Meitamei said that too propelled him to triumph since all the hopes were on him.
“I thank God for the wining gold, everything went as planned. I was advised by my coach and elder brother (Elijah Manangoi) who is my mentor and was here to cheer me. He advised me until the last minute. I also want to thank the fans who kept me moving,” Meitamei said after the race.
“I had to win this gold for my compatriot Kipkemboi who did not compete in this race because he picked up injury so I had to fill the gap,” the 17-year-old added.
His family led by their father were in the stadium to cheer up their own.
“I just will Meitamei all the best in his career and I give him more blessings to win more medals in future,” his father said.
After setting off at a relatively slow pace, the Ethiopian duo of Belete Mekonen and Abebe Dessassa took control of the pack in the early stages, but they seemed in no hurry and Mekonen led them through 800 metres in 2:07.58.
They eventually switched gears at the bell, launching a lengthy drive for the line in an effort to shake off a bunched field, but they were made to pay for their tactical approach.
Having sat back and played a waiting game, Meitamei was rewarded for his patience, drawing clear down the finishing straight to earn gold in 3:47.53.
Algeria’s Oussama Cherrad also produced a strong kick to take silver place but he was later disqualified for obstructing an opponent.
Dessassa was elevated to second position, taking the silver medal in a personal best of 3:48.65.
Mekonen, who had entered the race with the fastest career best in the line-up (3:39.86), held on to take the bronze medal in 3:50.64.
Kenya’s Dominic Kipkemboi was a non-starter for the final, having appeared to have picked up an injury after winning his heat two days prior.
-Additional material obtained from IAAF-