Nairobi Diary: a great day for South Africa and China

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stadium .jpgA view of the crowd for WU18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, photo by Getty Images/IAAF

This is Justin Lagat's story on the fourth day of the World Under 18 Championships. Justin has been writing for RunBlogRun for several years. We are always grateful for his observations on the sport, with a particular view from Kenya.

It was a wonderful day for South Africa and China on the fourth day of the IAAF World under 18 championships in Nairobi.

The quick rise of Kenya yesterday to reach the top could not match the one by South Africa on the fourth day as the country harvested a total of three gold medals in one day to end on top of the world on the medal table. China also got three gold medals to move up to the third position on the table behind Cuba.

As for the Kenyans, a reward for their turning up in incredibly large numbers on the fourth day of the championships to cheer was the two unexpected medals in the boys' 10,000m walk and in the 400m hurdles.

During the morning session, Kenya's Dominic Ndingiti battled it out with India's Sanjay Kumar to maintain the lead in the early stages of the race. In his futile efforts to remain at the front, Kumar got four red cards before finally getting disqualified for running. A pack of three caught up with Ndingiti in the last half of the race and walked together till the last two laps when China's Yao Zhang increased the pace and opened up a gap on the rest as he went ahead to win the gold medal. Ndingiti held on to finish third ahead of one and behind another ANA (Authorised Neutral Athlete).

Earlier on in the afternoon session, as South Africa's Zasini Sokwakhana ran a spectacular race to win gold for South Africa in the boys' 400m hurdles, Moitalel Mpoke Naadolika of Kenya surprised fans by finishing second ahead of runners from the countries that were expected to dominate the sprints including Jamaica, Brazil and China. This gave a lot of hope to Kenyan fans that the rest of the evening was going to be great for time now that the remaining events were the Kenya's specialty events.

29b42bbd-a208-4336-9daf-a9f68ac28f07.jpgBoys 800 meters, the race is on! photo by Getty Images/IAAF

But, not everything always goes on as expected. The two Kenyan girls coming into the finals of the 1500m event had the fastest personal best times on the start list could only finish 3rd and 4th. Ethiopia's Lemlem Hailu won the gold medal followed by her compatriot Sindu Girma to take the silver medal as Kenya's Edina Jebitok won the bronze medal.

The Kenyan boys did their best in the 800m event by going out fast just after the gun, but two Ethiopians stuck just behind them. With less than 100m to go, Ethiopia's Melese Nberet and Tolesa Bodena overtook them to win gold and silver respectively. Kenya's Japhet Toroitich won the bronze medal.

Sokwakhana Zazini 400m hurdles.jpgSokwakhana Zazini, 400 meter hurdles, photo by Getty Images/IAAF

There were a total of eleven gold medals given out today. Yao Zhang, Qiujiao Tan and Chunge Niu won gold medals for China in the 10,000m boys' walk, girls' triple jump and girls' pole vault respectively. Breyon Poole, Zeney Van and Zasini Sokwakhana of South Africa won the gold medal in the boys' high jump, girls' 400m hurdles and boys' 400m hurdles. Ethiopia's Lemlem Hailu and Melese Nberet won the gold medals in the girls' 1500m and boys 800m. Glenda Morejon won gold for Ecuador in the girls' walking race and Amanda Almendaris won the gold medal for Cuba in the girls' hammer throw while Claudio Romero won it in the boys Discus Throw for Chile.

Tomorrow, there will be no morning session on the final day of the championships and it is going to be intense competition for medals. Three races will be of particular interest to Kenyans as they seek to overtake the Ethiopians again on the medal table; the girls' 800m, the boys' 3000m and 2000m steeplechase races. Kenyans will need to win two gold medals to reach the top again while Ethiopia will only need one.

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