It was little surprise that the girls’ 3000m title went to an Ethiopian, though the fact it was relatively unheralded Shuru Bulo who sprinted to victory in 9:01.12 – and not her favoured team-mate Letesenbet Gidey – proved one of the biggest upsets on day one of the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 on Wednesday (15).
The Kenyans have traditionally dominated this race – winning gold six out of eight times in the event’s history – and when the gun fired inside the Pascual Guerrero Stadium, their duo of Emily Chebet Kipchumba and Sheila Chelangat made their intentions clear from the start.
Kipchumba, with Chelangat running on her shoulder, raced straight to the front and took the field through 1000m in a steady 3:01.38.
At that point, the Ethiopians were content to play the waiting game, Gidey sheltering on the inside behind the Kenyans with Bulo running alongside her.
Japan’s Yuka Mukai, Australia’s Annabel McDermott and Bahrain’s Fatuma Chebsi were the only three who went with the East Africans, but by the time the leaders reached 2000m in 6:05.53, they had already drifted back.
With 600 metres to run, Bulo showed her hand for the first time, passing Chelangat and running together with Kipchumba at the front.
As they reached the bell, Kipchumba began pouring on the pace, trying her best to lead every step of the way.
Though her effort soon had Gidey and team-mate Chelangat in trouble, it had little effect on the smooth-striding Bulo, who clung to Kipchumba’s shoulder as they entered the back straight for the final time.
With 200 metres to run, Bulo finally changed gears and swept past Chebet, who briefly tried in vain to go with the Ethiopian.
In the end, though, the turn of pace was simply too much and Bulo came home a clear winner in 9:01.12, a world-youth-leading time.
She becomes just the second Ethiopian to triumph in this event, after Gotytom Gebreslase four years ago in Lille.
After all her front-running, Kenya’s national junior champion Kipchumba was rewarded with a silver medal for her efforts, finishing in 9:02.92.
The battle for bronze was won by Chelangat, who edged world junior cross-country champion Gidey in the run to the line, 9:04.54 to 9:04.64.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF