Kenya loses overall title, as World event ends in Cali
Kenya was seeking to end the World Athletics Under-20 Championships on a high note by retaining the title they have won in the last two editions, instead the juniors finished fourth as the event ended on Sunday morning in Cali, Colombia.
And indeed it was expected to be a golden harvest for Kenya on the final day but soon turned up to be a frustrating evening for the defending champions. The final day of action saw a plethora of precocious youngsters again light up the track at the Pascual Guerrero Olympic Stadium, and in a programme littered with middle- and long-distance races, one nation shone brightest of all, this time it was Ethiopia and not Kenya.
Kenya missed out on gold in all the four finals they were involved in, only winning silver and bronze in the women’s 1500m while the men’s 800m and steeplechase, as well as the women’s 5,000m, ended in disappointment with no medals.
Ethiopia finished ahead of Kenya despite winning 10 medals as well, by virtue of having more gold; five. Ethiopia won four gold medals in the space of 65 minutes, taking victory in the women’s 1500m, men’s 800m, women’s 5000m and men’s 3000m steeplechase. The performance in Cali was a far cry from the performance in Nairobi last year where Kenya had a harvest of 16 medals, eight of them gold. USA topped the medal table with seven golds and 15 medals overall, while Jamaica was second with 14 medals; six gold, five silver and three bronze and Ethiopia third.
The women’s 1500m final marked the start of an astonishing spell of track dominance by Ethiopian athletes, with Birke Haylom announcing herself as a potential senior star by taking gold in a championship record of 4:04.27, with Kenyans Brenda Chebet and Purity Chepkirui – the defending champion – following her home in respective PBs of 4:04.64 and 4:07.64.
Poor tactics from the Kenyan athletes on the final day was the biggest let down. In the 5,000m, the duo of Jane Chacha and Maureen Cherotich employed an explosive pace from the start, but they were spent forces in the final three laps of the race.