Kenya had to wait until the fifth and final day of the competition here in Donetsk for its first double at the IAAF World Youth Championships as Rosefline Chepngetich and Daisy Jepkemei reigned supreme in the girls’ 2000m Steeplechase and took the gold and silver medals.
One of the newest events on the World Youth Championships programme, the girls’ Steeplechase has only been held at three previous editions of the IAAF World Youth Championships with only one of the titles eluding the Kenyans.
At 16, Chepngetich held pre-event favourite status having run a World youth leading 6:12 (hand timed) in Nairobi back in June, which suggested that the four-year-old world best of 6:11.83, held by Ethiopia’s Korahubsh Itaa, might be under threat.
Despite being a year younger than most of the rest of the field, Chepngetich showed maturity beyond her years as she mastered the final to perfection.
Nicole Reina, the youngest runner in the field, set the pace in the opening stages, the Italian leading from Australia’s Amy McCormick for 600 metres.
With three laps to go, Chepngetich and Jepkemei then increased the tempo ever so slightly, going through the first kilometre in 3:08.45 with only Ethiopia’s Weynshet Ansa, Reina and McCormick in close contention.
The African trio of then changed gears again, which saw Reina and McCormick lose touch,
With 800m to go, Chepngetich, Jepkemei and Ansa went through the finish perfectly in line but the Kenyans pair did have a game plan and they played it out to perfection as they set off for their finishing kick simultaneously at the sound of the bell.
In the space of 150 metres they had increased their lead on Ansa by almost 80 metres.
The pair went stride-for-stride until the final barrier but Chepngetich’s superior kick prevailed and she crossed the line in 6:14.60, well clear of Jepkemei in second with a personal best of 6:15.12.
Ansa held on for the bronze medal in 6:30.05 while her fast finishing compatriot Buzuayehu Mohamed came through strongly over the final two laps and took fourth in 6:40.07.
Reina was rewarded for her brave efforts with a best of 6:40.70 for fifth with McCormick coming home sixth in 6:44.45.