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Jamaican runner pulls steeplechase surprise to deny Kenyans

Keith McGhie in Gold Coast @peoplesport11

Kenya claimed two more medals in last night’s women’s steeplechase final but saw their much-sought-after first gold snatched away in the closing strides by an almost disbelieving Jamaican Aisha Praught.

Talented teenager Celliphine Chespol scattered the field with a strong surge halfway through the seven-and-a-half lap race over the barriers but, having at one stage built a 10-metre lead, could do nothing but agonise as the 28-year-old Caribbean runner powered past her barely 80 metres from the line to finish in 9:21.00.

Kenya’s defending champion from Glasgow 2014 Purity Cherotich Kirui set the early pace and came home a strong third to take bronze this time but there was a feeling of anti-climax in the Kenyan camp having come so close to the top spot on the podium.

Chespol, still just 19 and already the second fastest of all time over the discipline, was happy with a first senior medal but disappointed to miss out on gold by 1.61 seconds having built what most people thought was a winning lead.

The former World Youth and Junior champion, who was recently crowned African Cross-Country champion, was the first to congratulate the new Commonwealth Champion and said afterwards: “I prepared myself well and didn’t expect the Jamaican to come by.

“Maybe I didn’t have time to recover after the cross-country but I will go away and work on my speed before going on to compete in the Diamond League.”

Kirui ran a strong third for bronze to add to the gold she took in Scotland four years ago, while 16-year-old Fancy Cherono couldn’t stay with the pace late in the race but was still able to celebrate a lifetime’s best 9:46.27 in sixth position.

After similar failure to win an event Kenya had made their own in last August’s World Championships, team coach Joshua Chelang’a admitted they would think hard about the reasons and maybe look at hurdling technique.

He commented: “They have just come from cross-country and to me they have done there best and got medals. “We are going to go back to the drawing board and assess what happened. “She (Chespol) was leading but unfortunately something went wrong.”

Kenyan surprise packet Maximila Imali, who won her semi-final, landed a superb fifth place in the women’s 400m medal decider in which gold went to Botswana’s Amantle Montsho.

Police Services Officer Imali, just 22, powered round the final bend and was in a medal position until her legs folded in the final metres.

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