Kumari Taki at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 (© Getty Images)
On an unforgettable day for global 1500m running, Kumari Taki ensured day three of the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 would also be ignited by a stellar metric mile performance as he smashed the boys’ championship record courtesy of a bold front-running display on Friday (17).
The 16-year-old Kenyan took the lead from the outset with only his countryman Lawi Kosgei prepared to go with the searing pace set by the stick-thin Taki.
With 600 metres remaining, the leader kicked clear of Kosgei and then simply put on a demonstration of his outstanding middle-distance staying power.
He crossed the line in a personal best of 3:36.38 to trim 0.39 from Robert Biwott’s championship record and claim Kenyan’s seventh success in nine editions of the event at these championships.
Playing an astute tactical game, Ethiopia’s Mulugeta Assefa benefited from a more conservative approach than Kosgei to catch and pass the fading Kenyan in the latter stages to take silver by 0.33 in a personal best of 3:41.33.
A naturally elated Taki, who climbed to number 10 on the world youth all-time list, said of his first performance outside of Africa: “It was amazing to improve my personal best and set a championship record. I hope to compete more on the international level. It is a wonderful success.”
Elsewhere, on a busy night of eight finals inside the Pascual Guerrero Stadium, Jamaica’s Christopher Taylor produced an outstanding performance to come within 0.13 of the world youth best en route to gold in the boys’ 400m.
The 15-year-old belied his tender age to hold off the double-pronged challenge from the USA to strengthen his grip on number six on the all-time lists after flashing past the line in 45.27. It is the fastest time ever by a 15-year-old and eclipses his own time of 45.30 from the semi-finals, having arrived at the championships with a best of 45.55.
Taylor stands one place ahead of Usain Bolt on the world youth all-time 400m list andcame within 0.03 of Kirani James’ championship record.
Behind Taylor, Josephus Lyles – brother of Youth Olympic 200m champion Noah – took silver in a personal best of 45.46 as his compatriot Keshun Reed took bronze in 45.96.
There was to be disappointment for the home fans as Colombian hope Anthony Jose Zambrano – such an eye-catching winner in Thursday’s semi-final – had to settle for seventh in 46.57.
Piskunov hammers championship record
The outstanding performance in the field came in the boys’ hammer final as Ukraine’s Hlib Piskunov posted a championship record of 84.91m.
The display solidified last year’s Youth Olympic Games champion as number four on the world youth all-time list and as a further measure of his superiority, he produced four throws in excess of 80 metres: the four longest of the competition.
Ukraine also earned silver courtesy of a PB by Mykhailo Havryliuk with 78.93m.
In the girls' 400m, Salwa Eid Naser claimed a memorable win for Bahrain with a well-judged tactical race to strike gold in a world-youth-leading time of 51.50, which was also a personal best.
The Youth Olympic Games silver medallist, who has spent valuable training time preparing for the race in Bulgaria, was significantly adrift of USA's Lynna Irby at the halfway mark.
However, Naser kicked hard around the second bend and was too strong down the home stretch for the fading Irby, who finished 0.29 in arrears to claim silver.
Predictably, Kenya claimed a second successive 1-2 in the girls’ 2000m steeplechase at the World Youth Championships with an utterly dominant display.
Celliphine Chepteek Chespol’s superior technique played its part in her success from her countrywoman Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei. With the pair battling it out for gold at the penultimate water barrier, Tuei’s unorthodox technique of hurdling the obstacle and landing on both feet proved her undoing.
She lost 10 metres in the process and although she made up ground on her compatriot between barriers, Chespol was always able to keep her at arms length to win by more than two seconds in 6:17.15 – a time which was to elevate her to eighth on the world youth all-time list.
Ngo goes from no-hoper to gold
Matteo Ngo kept his head in a mistake-riddled race to claim a shock win for France in the boys’ 110m hurdles.
Ngo had squeaked into the final as one of the two non-automatic qualifiers and, running from the inside lane, few would have fancied his chances of taking the crown.
Yet after Isaiah Lucas of the USA clattered through hurdle seven and lost crucial momentum, it was Ngo who maintained his composure best to edge the win in 13.53.
In a blanket finish, Canada’s Joseph Daniels and Lucas picked up silver and bronze respectively, both 0.01 behind. In fact only 0.04 separated the first six athletes.
Cuba strengthened their hold on the boys’ horizontal jumps here in Cali as pre-event favourite Christian Atanay Napoles added the triple jump title tonight to the boys’ long jump crown collected by Maykel Demetrio Masso the previous night.
A first-round leap of 16.13m helped Napoles secure the gold from China’s Du Mingze, who set a personal best of 16.02m for silver.
Cuba also banked bronze courtesy of a 15.70m effort from Julio Cesar Carbonell.
The gold medal was just reward for the impressive Napoles, who had produced seven of the nine farthest leaps by a youth in the world this year prior to tonight’s final.
Michaela Hruba was one of the biggest pre-event favourites here in Cali and the Czech girl lived up to her billing to win the high jump title by a record margin of eight centimetres with a best effort of 1.90m.
Second-time clearances at 1.85m and 1.90m demonstrated Hruba’s dominance as the 17-year-old added another global medal to the world junior silver she took last year.
Steve Landells for the IAAF