Kenya’s World Cross Country Championships’ junior champion Faith Chepng’etich Kipyego and Eastern African 1,500 metres silver medallist Sheila Chepng’etich Keter on Wednesday eased into Saturday’s 1,500m final as the Seventh IAAF World Youth Championships got under way here.
On her maiden track outing in shoes, after bagging the global cross country title in Spain in March running barefoot, Faith was in a class of her own.
The lithe girl wore the composure of an experienced athlete as she dazzled the fans in the age-old French city with a fine run as she stormed the lead at the 700-metre mark, leaving Ethiopia’s Genet Tibiso and Georgia Peel (Great Britain) in tow.
The Standard Eight pupil at Keringet Township Primary School, Kuresoi, then stepped up the pace to counter a surging Tibiso and stop the timer in four minutes 16.95 seconds as Tibiso (4:17.68), Peel (4:19.14) and Japanese Yui Fukuda (4:21.76) trailed.
Katelyn Simpson (4:22.27) of Australia and Camille Chapus (4:22.69) of USA also sailed to the finals.
Ready for anyone
The comfortable-looking Faith said she is still in top form and expects to perform well. She said: “I am ready for anyone. We want to retain the title that Nelly Chebet won us in Italy.”
The girl from Ndabibit Village in Kuresoi added: “I want to do well as my elder sisters Mercy Chebwogen and Beatrice promised to watch me running here.”
Sheila could not stop Senbere Teferi from winning Heat One. She went neck and neck with her up to the final 200m before the Ethiopian employed an electric pace, crossing the finish line in 4:21.44.
Hannah Meier (4:25.03) of USA and Australia’s Anna Laman (4:25.53) checked in third and fourth, respectively.
Sheila wants to use Saturday’s showpiece to launch her bid into the club of greats. She wants to follow in the footsteps of training mates – among them former World 800m junior silver medallist Winnie Chebet and reigning global 3,000m queen Purity Cherono.
“I really want to be like them; they proved their might to the world,” said Sheila.
Easily sailed into semi-finals
Timothy Kitum and Leonard Kirwa Kosencha showed Kenya’s intentions to improve 800m pecking order in the global youth contests as they easily sailed into Thursday’s semi-finals with brilliant wins in round one.
Kitum, from the steeplechase cradle of Marakwet, forced Botswana’s Nijel Amos (1:52.72) and Parryk Wrobel (1:53.83) of Poland to second and third places in heat seven.
Kosencha (1:49.32), the Eastern African Youth 800m king from Trans Mara, proved that the two-lap race world record is at his rural home with holder David Rudisha as he blew away Brandon Mcbride (1:51.55) of Canada.
Kenyans however had a poor showing in the girls’ 400m heats despite spirited efforts to improve the sprints scorecard as sole one-lap runner Neviah Michira (57.2) wound sixth.
Thursday’s highlights: 18:15pm – 800m semi-finals: Timothy Kitum and Leonard Kosencha