Solomon Lekuta takes 800m gold for Kenya at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 (© Getty Images)
With a run that required speed, stamina and a sheer sense of self-belief, Solomon Lekuta of Kenya secured his nation their third consecutive gold medal in the men’s 800m at the IAAF World U20 Championships.
“I'm really happy with the gold medal but the competition was really hot because everyone wanted it too,” said Lekuta. “I've been training for this championship for a long time and I want to dedicate the gold medal to my parents.”
Taking the lead from the gun, Lekuta blitzed through the opening 200m in 25 seconds and steadied things slightly from there, passing 400m just behind Ethiopia’s Adisu Girma, who passed through in 52.17 with a horde of athletes stalking his footsteps close behind.
Britain’s Markhim Lonsdale came to grief just before the bell, a collision of legs immediately ending his medal hopes as he crashed to the track.
Down the back straight, Girma continued to turn the screw on those behind, with the second Kenyan, Ngeno Kipngetich, appearing best poised to launch a strike for gold along with Algeria’s Oussama Cherrad.
Halfway down the home straight it seemed Kipngetich’s move would be successful, the Kenyan hitting the front and drawing away from Girma, but soon he had unwanted company in the form of Lekuta, back from the dead, who came charging down the outside.
Lekuta had just enough left in his legs to carry himself to the lead as the line approached, and he crossed in 1:46.35. Kipngetich came home just behind in 1:46.45 to seal Kenya’s third successive one-two in the event.
“The last 200 metres were so tough,” said Kipngetich. “I feel proud I could bring the silver medal to my country. Overall, Kenya had a great race - two medals.”
Algeria’s Oussama Cherrad held on for bronze, or so it seemed.
Approaching the finish, Cherrad had moved wide to halt the run of Belgium’s Eliott Crestan, a move which got him disqualified and upgraded Crestan to bronze in 1:47.27.
Ethiopia’s Girma faded close to home and could only finish fourth in 1:47.58.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF