NAIROBI, Kenya, July 12 – George Manangoi added another global title to his collection after storming to gold in the men’s 1500m at the ongoing IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tapere, Finland on Thursday.
Manangoi, the World Under-18 champion, clocked 3:41.71 to win gold, beating Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway who returned 3:41.89 to settle for silver while another Kenyan Justus Soget bagged bronze in 3:42.14.
Ethiopian Samuel Tefera took an early lead after the first lap before soget took over the mantle, but he could not hold on the gas to see Ingebrigtsen hit the front 50m as the athletes approached home stretch.
However, George Manangoi, who is looking to emulate his elder brother world champion Elijah, powered through to the close home to strike gold.
“I’m very grateful,” said Manangoi. “I wasn’t confident that I could win but I did my best and now I know I have the talent.”
Tefera finished outside the medal bracket after fading to fifth, with Jake Heyward of Britain storming through for fourth.
It says much about the race’s quality that Tefera, the world indoor champion from Ethiopia, could only finish fifth in 3:43.91, although this was no ordinary world U20 final, but likely the best field ever assembled at this level.
The race started at a crawl, Kenya’s Justus Soget taking a hesitant lead and towing the field through 400m in 63.11. On the second lap, gold medal favourite Tefera gradually moved to the front, passing 800m in 2:05.74.
By then, the gears were turning throughout the pack, a ripple effect of panic and chaos breaking out as everyone tried to shuffle into position for the bell lap.
Tefera began to pour it on at the front, a 56.49-second lap taking them to the bell in 2:48.10. Up the back straight, Tefera went all-in, churning out a ferocious tempo and leading into the final turn, but Soget and Ingebrigtsen were coming, ready to strike.
Soget was the first to go by, then Ingebrigtsen came over the top of him, wrestling to the front with mere metres to run. But finishing fastest of all was the forgotten man: Manangoi.
Kenya’s hopes of collecting another medal on Day 3 was dashed after World Under-18 champion Jackline Wambui finished last timing 2:04.61 in a race that was won by Ethiopian Diribe Welteji in a Championship Record of 1:59.74.
Carley Thomas of Australia took silver in a Personal Best of 2:01.13 while Swiss Delia Sclabas completed the podium finish after returning 2:01.29.
After Day 3, Kenya top the medal standing with 3 gold and 1 bronze ahead of joint second placed Japan who are second with 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze and Jamaica who have the equal number of medals as the Japanese.
Kenya will be out to add more medals when defending champion Cilliphine Chespol and Mercy Chepkurui take it to the track to compete in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase final.