Former World Youth champion Norah Jeruto claimed her spot in the competitive women steeplechase with a second career Diamond League victory at the Bislet Games in Oslo, Norway on Thursday night.
In what could be her final rite of passage into senior ranks the 23-year-old did the unthinkable – breezed past the world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech in the last 45m of the women 3,000m steeplechase to win in 9:03.71 and leave in her wake four of the best in that discipline in the past four years.
Chepkoech was helpless as she witnessed Jeruto finish strongly ahead of her but was well ahead of the chasing pack and made do with a 9:04.30 second place while former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Hyvin Kiyeng third on 9:07.56 to beat reigning world champion Emma Coburn (USA) who clocked 9:08.42.
The four big wigs were trailed in fifth and sixth places by yet more budding Kenyan steeplechasers in Daidy Chapkemei and Celliphine Chepteek Chepsol. Pacesetter Caroline Tuigong led the field of 17 runners past the 1,000m mark in 2:59.99 before the record holder Chepkoech her preferred front running.
With her long, strong strides she was ahead by the 2,000m mark where she registered 6:03.51 and seemed headed for a routine victory. The script was normal with the reigning world champion Coburn expected to challenge Chepkoech in the final 800m. However, the American did not have enough in her gas tank and equally lacking in air capacity was Kiyeng, the 2015 world champion.
Jeruto kept pace with Chepkoech but was not expected to surrender and settle for second place. A lot changed very quickly as gained rapid pace after clearing the final hurdle, two steps behind Chepkoech. The sudden burst of pace so late in the race startled Chepkoech was neither expecting nor prepared for a late onslaught.
Thus, Jeruto completed a major track upset with a world leading time in the Norwegian capital.
“It felt good to beat those girls. The race was perfect, I felt confident of going and the crowd was good too.
I enjoyed it very much and I’m so pleased with my time,” Jeruto said after the race while American Coburn complained of the big field.