Kenya reclaimed this title from Ethiopia courtesy of a richly deserved aggressive front-running display by Vincent Kipyegon Ruto, who won in 5:27.58 on Sunday (19).
The diminutive Kenyan simply ran the legs off Youth Olympic champion Wogene Sebsibe to ensure Kenya would bank gold in this event for the seventh time in nine editions of the IAAF World Youth Championships.
It only took 500 metres for the two Kenyans, Ruto and Geofrey Rotich, and the Ethiopian pair of Sebisibe and Tegenu Mengistu to open up a clear advantage on the rest of the field; or should that be the rest of the world, as the final predictably formed into two separate races.
Ruto, the Kenyan youth champion, willingly hammered out the pace at the front with Mengistu the first of the leading contenders to raise the white flag, sliding off the back of the lead group as the leader hit 1000m in a rapid 2:43.03.
With two laps remaining, Rotich was the next to find the pace too hot to handle as the battle for the gold medal formed into a two-way fight.
Sebisibe, who had finished two places in front of Ruto when winning silver in the 3000m steeplechase at the African Junior Championships in March, was happy to track Ruto.
However, the Kenyan’s searing pace coupled with his greater technical proficiency over the barriers was to prove Sebisibe’s undoing.
Down the back stretch on the final lap the business-like Ruto – all pumping arms and legs – had opened up a decisive gap from which the Ethiopian, who was conceding significant ground over most hurdles, could not recover.
Ruto could bask in the glow of likely victory over the last half lap and secured gold with a winning time just a fraction outside of his lifetime best set at the Kenyan Youth Championships in Nairobi last month.
The fading Sebisibe was briefly challenged as the re-energised Rotich sniffed a potential silver medal, but the Ethiopian had enough in reserve to take second spot by 0.75 in 5:29.41.
Seven boys in the field set personal best times, including every finisher from second to sixth.
“The wind was a small problem during the race but I still produced my best performance,” said a delighted Ruto. “I always expected this victory.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF