Kenya made a golden start to the IAAF Under 20 World Championships in Tampered, Finland last evening when teenagers Rhonex Kipruto and Beatrice Chebet romped to victory in men’s 10,000m and women’s 5,000m.
Kipruto lived up to his pre-race favourite expectation as he totally dominated the field, clocking an unprecedented 27:21.08 to set the new championship record. The last record was set by Rodgers Kwemoi in Bydgoszcz, Poland 2016.
Save for the opening 1,000m when Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo and just after the halfway mark when Kenya’s Solomon Boit led the field, Kipruto stayed ahead of everyone and finished a whopping 19 seconds ahead of Kiplimo. Berihu Aregawi of Ethiopia claimed bronze as Boit finished fourth.
Meanwhile, Chebet glided from fourth position to win the women’s 5,000m race in 15:30.77.
Race favourite Helen Lobun fell with just over a mile left and finished fifth in 15:45.7. Japanese runner of Kenyan descent Takamasa Musembi led the field through a scorching opening 2,000m, reached in 6:21.37.
Ethiopia’s Egjayehu Taye then assumed control with Chebet fifth but within touching distance. Lobun moved behind Taye just after the 3,000m mark passed in 9:35.28 with Musembi fourth. Fate then conspired to lock out Lobun as she kissed the tartan tracks in a nasty fall that left her incapable of staging a finishing fight.
Chebet then moved into second as the leading pack passed the 4,000m point in 12:40.14 before battling Taye who had been joined in the fire by compatriot Girmawit Gebrzihair, taking victory with a small margin of 10 micro-seconds.
Earlier, Mary Moraa’s track novelty took a blissful twist when she defied great odds to qualify for the women’s 400m semi-finals with a heat-winning performance. The 18-year-old, running on lane three, left it late as usual before zooming to a personal best time of 52:85 to win the second heat.
Moraa improved on her time by almost two seconds and left in her wake Andrea Miklos of Romania, Elisabetta Vandi of Italy and Ethiopia’s Frehiywot Wondie to scrap for remaining qualifying slots.
Celliphine Chespol launched her 3,000m steeplechase title defence, blowing apart a lightweight field to win her heat 14 seconds ahead of her closest pursuer.
Chespol, who won the event two years ago in Bydgoszcz, Poland, employed her preferred style of front running in the opening heat, clocking 9:45.6 to book her date with destiny as Montana McAvoy of Australia and Japanese Manami Nishiyama laboured for second and third place finishes.