Kenya’s dominance in the 3,000m race at the World Youth Championships is set to continue after Vedic Kipkoech and Alexander Mutiso Munyao stormed the finals in Donetsk, Ukraine.
In the event dominated by East African athletes, Kipkoech, with a personal best of 7min, 52.0 sec, won heat one in 8:26.25 ahead of Ethiopia’s Mogos Tuemay (8:26.69). Eritrean Awet Nftalem Kibrab was third after timing 8:27.23.
The going was, however, tough for Alexander Munyao as he could only settle for the second position behind Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia.
Munyao’s hard-fought ticket produced a time of 8:25.30, just 3.19 seconds behind Kejelchas’s 8:22.11.
Kenyan boys have ruled the 3,000m race since 1999, winning five gold medals and only losing to Ethiopia’s Markos Geneti and Abreham Cherkos in 2003 and 2005 respectively.
On the second day of the championships, however, there was disappointment for the Kenyan team as the only 800m girls’ representative, Jacinta Mwasya was disqualified for unclear reasons, despite having finished fourth in the fourth heat.
However, Jacinta’s compatriots, Robert Kiptoo Biwott and Titus Kipruto Kibiego made up for her predicament by booking tickets for 1,500m boys’ final.
Biwott stormed Sunday’s final with second best finish in the first heat which was won by Ethiopia’s Mathiwos Yotota who recorded a personal best time of three minutes, 54.98 with the Kenyan managing 3:55.12.
Another Kenyan, Titus Kipruto Kibiego also booked a ticket to the final in a time of 3:50.44 to finish third in heat three won by American Grant Fisher (3:50.30)
On Wednesday night, Standard Seven pupil Lilian Kasait, won Kenya its first gold medal at the championships after winning the girls’ 3,000 metres.
In what appeared a dangerous move, Kasait kicked with five laps to go but went ahead to win, clocking a world-leading time of 8:58:76.
She once again got the better of World Junior Champion, Mercy Cebwogen, whom she had beaten during the national trials in Nairobi.
After the bell, Kasait appeared to lose steam only to recover with another powerful kick only a few meters to the finish line to widen the gap between her and the hard-chasing Ethiopian duo of Berhan Diemiese and Silenat Yismaw.