Budding middle distance runner Edward Zakayo oozed class in the second heat of the boys’ 3,000m as the IAAF World Under 18 Championships entered its second day at Kasarani Stadium yesterday.
Zakayo toyed with Ethiopia’s Milkesa Mengesha in a tactical affair before eventually showing him who is boss with a convincing victory that saw him join compatriot Stanley Waithaka in the final of the race to inherit Richard Kimunyan’s youth title from Cali, Colombia.
“Barring any calamity, I will win gold,” said the 17-year-old who stopped the clock in 8:04.85 in the qualifying round. He raced to the fore soon after the opening 200m and kept ahead with Mengesha on his shoulder.
When it became apparent the race would be between the two, Zakayo still led, before speeding away from Mengesha then eventually pointed to the finish line in dramatic fashion reminiscent of legendary athletes Eliud Kipchoge’s Olympic marathon run and Ezekiel Kemboi of the 3,000m steeplechase.
The first heat saw a tactical Waithaka ease into the final behind experienced Ethiopian Salemon Barega who won in 7:55.73. Waithaka, executing team instructions stayed within the pack, testing Barega’s strength in the latter stages of the race before retreating to secure second place in 7:59.73. “We decided as a team to run differently.
Waithaka was to stay back and I was to pull the field and we all stuck to that. Now we are in the finals and hopefully we will win medals for Kenya,” said Zakayo.
In girls’ 800m, Jackline Wambui clocked the fastest time of the day to win heat three and join Lydia Jeruto in the semi-finals and raise hopes of the country winning back the youth title.
Kenya missed the podium two years ago but a 2:08.24 performance from Wambui and Jeruto’s 2:10.37 raise hopes of better tidings at home. In the girls’ 400m huddles, Leah Jeruto and Irene Akinyi failed to progress past the first stage after placing third and last in second and third heats.
Jeruto agonizingly came close to finishing second but fizzled out in the last 100m. She held on for third but was unfortunate to have been in a slow heat. Her 1:01.11 performance was insufficient to take her through.
Akinyi, on the other hand, was last in heat three with a time of 1:04.31. Meanwhile, not even a personal best time of 14:86 could propel Peter Wambua past the preliminary rounds of the boys’ 110m hurdles as he finished seventh.