Nairobi Diaries: Day 3 of the IAAF World Under 18 Championships; great audience as Kenya moves to the top of the world on the medal table


Caren Chebet and Merc Chepkirui 2000m steeple.jpgCaren Chebet and Merc Chepkirui in the 2000m steeplechase at the 2017 IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017, photo by Getty Images for IAAF

This is day 3 of the 2017 IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017, and our friend, Justin Lagat was on the scene, giving RunBlogRun readers the info on the meet.

In the morning session of day 3 of the IAAF World under 18 championships in Nairobi, Kenya and Ethiopia exchanged roles in the two heats of the boys' 2000m steeple chase heats where Ethiopia's Alemu Kitessa won the first heat against Kenya's Cleophas Meyan. In the second heat, Kenya's Leornard Bett won it against Ethiopia's Girma Diriba. This sets an exciting stage for an epic battle for the gold medal between the two countries in the finals.
De Jour Russell, 110m hurdles .jpgDe Jour Russell, 110m hurdles, winner, Jamaica, the 2017 IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017, photo by Getty Images for IAAF

The girls' 800m semi-finals in the evening were the first to get the full cheering of the large, enthusiastic and amazing audience that had turned up for the evening session. It was a continuous roar by the audience from gun to tape in both the first and the second heats. In the first heat, it seemed like Dauti Releksa of Albania may have heard the announcer saying that she was the slowest in the first heat and perhaps in an effort to prove that the slowest on paper is not necessarily the slowest on track, she led the field up to about the 600m mark when Kenya's Lydia Jeruto overtook her and eased away. In the second semi-final, Jackline Wambui drove the crowds wild in a tactical race as she kept gauging her opponents in a show of real confidence.

jordan diaz TJ WB.jpgJordan Diaz celebrating his WB 17.30m TJ, the 2017 IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017, photo by Getty Images for IAAF

There was a new championship record in the boys' triple jump when Cuba's Jordan Diaz jumped an impressive 17:00m to set a new record, then broke it again in the following attempt and set a new one of 17:30m and win the gold medal.

A total of eight finals happened during the evening session.

Mykhaylo Kokhan of Turkey threw 82.31m to win the gold medal in the boys' Hammer Throw. The girls' High Jump gold medal went to Mahuchikh Yaroslava of Ukraine. Antonio Watson won the first gold medal for Jamaica at the championships in the boys' 400m and went ahead to take Usain Bolt's pose for the cameras. The boys' 110m hurdles' gold medal went to De'jour Russel who added another gold medal for Jamaica.

George Managoi, Kenya, 1500m .jpgfffthe 2017 IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017, photo by Getty Images for IAAF

The real exciting moment, especially to the home ground fans, was when the boys took to the track for the 1500m final. Kenya's Dominic Kipkemboi who had run a solo run to win the first heat in the first rounds was missing after getting injured and George Manangoi was the only Kenyan at the starting line. But, despite that, Manangoi stayed patient just behind the leading two Ethiopians and moved to the front with about 150 meters to go. The wild cheering by fans in the stadium must have helped propel him as he kept opening up the gap against the rest of the field to deliver the first gold medal for Kenya. Abebe Dessassa and Mekonen Belete won silver and bronze for Ethiopia.

However, the best moment for the Kenyans was yet to happen in the girls' 2000m steeple chase. Two Kenyans separated from the rest of the field with almost two laps to go and made it a race between them. Mercy Jepkurui began to open a gap against her fellow Kenyan as they came to the last water arrier, but slipped and fell down after clearing it. This allowed Caren Chebet to overtake her, but momentarily before she recovered and managed to overtake again in the home stretch. She must have used a lot of energy in doing that because she had no more strength to react when Chebet kicked harder to overtake in the last few meters to the finish line and went for the gold. Kenyans won gold and silver.

Mary Moraa also gave Kenyans a surprise silver medal in the girls' 400m race that was won by Barbora Malikova of the Czech Republic.

At the end of the day, Kenya finally landed on top of the world at the medal table.

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