2017 Nairobi Diary: Day 1 of the IAAF World Under 18 Championships in Nairobi, a day of contrasts


Justin Lagat is our eyes and ears in Nairobi for the IAAF World Under 18 Championshps. This is his report on Day 1. We look forward to his notes and comments on this important championships.

It was a day of contrasts.

In the morning it was sunny, but there were hardly any fans on the seats. In the evening, a good number of lively fans turned up, but then the rains poured down heavily and even interrupted some competitions.

At exactly 9:30 AM on a fine sunny morning, the 100m Boys' Decathlon event warmed up the track and set off the championships. This was followed by five heats of the boys' 100m.

To the surprise of many, and to the excitement of the Kenyan fans at the stadium, a Kenyan made it to the semi-finals in the boys' 100m. Mathew Onkware finished third in heat 5 that was won by Jamaica's Tyreke Wilson.

Another event that thrilled the few fans that had turned up in the morning was the boys' 1500m finals. Dominic Kipkemboi ran a solo but dramatic race in the first heat, but with less than 50m to go he was almost stopping apparently having developed a sudden injury. The other Kenyan, George Manangoi, won the second heat comfortably signaling that the Kenyans could dominate the event in the finals.

Another dramatic race happened in the boys' 400m 4th heat when Akshay Nain of India led the race almost up to the finish line and fell down so close to the finish line. Four Kenyans advanced to the semi- finals in the distance; two girls and two boys.

An opening ceremony in which the presidents of Kenya, the IAAF and Athletics Kenya made their remarks preceded the evening session. Kenya's president announced that the stadium will be free for fans to enter and watch the competitions beginning tomorrow.

The boys' 100m semifinals followed and for the first time in the championship there was a false start in heat 2 and Koneshe of Lesotho was disqualified.

The climax of the day came in the last two finals; the boys' 100m and the girls' 3000m. South African took the top two medals in the 100m, Tshenolo Lemao won gold while his compatriot, Retshidisitswe Mlenga took the silver medal. Jamaica's Tyreke Wilson won the bronze medal.

With three laps to go in the girls' 3000m event, it was already a competition between Ethiopia and Kenya with two athletes from each nation. Kenya's Emmaculate Chepkurui took to the front at the bell and tried her best to hold on to the lead, but with about fifty meters to go, Ethiopia's Abersh Minsewo overtook her to take the gold medal as she followed for the silver. The other Ethiopian, Yitayish Mekonene took the bronze medal while Kenya's Beatrice Chebet finished 4th.
The girls' Shot Put (3kg) finals event had to be delayed, but it finally happened and Selina Dantzler of Germany won gold, Yu Tianxiao of China won silver and Yue Sun also of China won the bronze.
Tomorrow will likely be a more exciting event than even today given that many fans will be attracted by the free entrance into the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani Stadium. Another thing to consider is that Kenyan fans are used to sporting events happening usually in the evenings and by tomorrow they would have known that action begins at 9 AM in the morning.

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