Golden-girl Chespol retains steeplechase title in Finland

Wednesday March 18 2020
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Celiphine Chepteek Chepsol of Kenya crosses the line to win gold in the final of the women's 3000m steeplechase on day four of The IAAF World U20 Championships on July 13, 2018 in Tampere, Finland. PHOTO | STEPHEN POND |

By AYUMBA AYODI
By BERNARD ROTICH

Kenya’s Cellphine Chespol once again smashed the Championship Record when she staged a dazzling display to retain her 3,000m steeplechase at the ongoing World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland on Friday.

Chespol broke away from Kenyan-born Winfred Mutile of Bahrain and Ugandan Peruth Chemutai with two laps to go before winning in 9 minutes and 12.79 minute to shatter her previous CR from 2016 Poland by 13 seconds.

Chespol, 19, started to shake off Mutile and Chemutai just before she hit the 2000m mark in 6:15.04 and the bell at 7:57.46 for victory, beating Chemutai to silver in 9:18.87. Mutile came in third for bronze in 9:23.47.

It was the second victory for Chespol in the World Under-20 event, having also won World Under-18 2,000m steeplechase title during the 2015 competition in Cali, Colombia.

“I’m very happy to have retained my title. I want to dedicate this medal to my mother Beatrice Chespol back at home,” said Chespol.

That saw Kenya extend its supremacy in women’s steeplechase that was introduced in 2004, winning seven out of the eight events so far. The only year Kenyan women failed to win was 2014 Eugene where Kenyan-born Ruth Jebet of Bahrain claimed victory.

Chespol, who is also the 2018 Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist, holds the second fastest time in the history of the women’s 3,000m steeplechase of 8:58.78 set when she won at the Prefontaine Classic, Eugene, USA, last year.

The time also counts for the World Under-20 record.

It was Kenya’s fourth gold medal at the championships that entered its fourth day on Friday after previous victories by Rhonex Kipruto (10,000m), George Manangoi (1,500m) and Beatrice Chebet (5,000m).

Chespol’s exploits brought Kenya’s medal tally to five medals with Justus Soget winning bronze in men’s 1,500m.

Kenya also upheld its top position in the medal standings and are followed by Great Britain with three gold, one silver and one bronze medals.