As expected, Kenya produced a second consecutive 1-2 finish in the 800m, with Kipyegon Bett prevailing over Willy Tarbei in 1:44.95.
It was a strong front-running performance by Bett, who led from the 200-metres point onwards, to turn the tables on Tarbei who finished ahead of him at last year’s IAAF World Youth Championships Cali 2015.
“I lost to Willy last year but this time I expected to win after I finished first at the Kenyan Trials this year,” said Bett, who clocked a PB of 1:44.4 in the Nairobi race. “My only problem was the finishing kick, and I worked hard on that this year.”
That didn’t show as he collected Kenya’s 10th world U20 title over the distance.
“I’m not disappointed to lose to my teammate,” said Tarbei, who clocked 1:45.50. “I have an injured toe that that was not a big problem today. Our tactic today was to run together, it is easier to run fast that way.”
They did just that, controlling the tempo from the break. First they brushed off Brian Bell of the US who gave chase over the first lap, and then both Jesus Tonatiu Lopez of Mexico, who briefly ran third down the back straight on the second lap. And finally Morocco’s Mostafa Smaili, who powered past the Mexican on the final bend to cruise to the bronze.
Smaili, who was an impressive sixth at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 in March, clocked 1:46.02 in third, the first ever medal in the event at these championships for Morocco.
Lopez was a distant fourth in 1:46.70 with Canada’s Robert Heppenstall (1:47.33) fifth.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF