Nairobi Diary: and, on the final day, Moi International Sports Center is full!


stadium .jpgAnd on the final day, the stadium was full! photo by Getty Images/IAAF

Justin Lagat, our view from Kenya, has written a daily piece on the World Under 18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. Justin combines a love for his country and an affection for his fellow athletes. Here is his column on day five.

As predicted, the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani Stadium was filled to its capacity on the final day of the IAAF world U18 championships. And still, there were more fans that were barred from entering the stadium once its capacity had been reached.

This was the 10th edition and the last championships of this kind and Kenyan fans made it a memorable one. They broke the attendance record the previous day and set a new one on the last day with 60,000 fans getting a chance to enter into the stadium.

Kenyan girls in the 800m event gave Kenyans an emotional moment when they left the rest of the competitors behind them and turned the race into a two horse race between them. Jackline Wambui led Lydia Jeruto as the two went ahead to win a gold and a silver medal respectively.

Like they dominated the 100m sprint event yesterday, the South Africans did it again in the 200m final. This time round, it was Retshidisitswe Mlenga who won the gold while Tshenolo Lemao won the silver medal. It was the other way round yesterday. This could predict the rise of South Africa in the sprint events in the near future.

But, the future of the men's steeplechase still belongs to Kenya. That is the strong message that the Kenyan boys send out when they took to the front of the 2000m steeplechase race and completely dominated it sending the crowds wild. Leornard Bett won the gold medal as his compatriot, Cleophas Meyan, who did the most part in pacing him won the silver medal.

Except for the 10,000m walk, all the medals that went to the People's Republic of China during the entire championships were won in the field events. Luying Gong is the girl who won the gold medal in the Long Jump event for China on the final day.

Ethiopia's Selemon Barega proved more powerful than the Kenyans in a tactical 3000m race that was expectedly a competition between the two nations. It would seem that the Ethiopians have perfected a strong kick purposely to beat the Kenyans on the track, and like they did in the men's 800m, Barega powered past the Kenyans in the home stretch to win the gold medal as the two Kenyans; Edward Zakayo and Stanley Waithaka followed to take silver and bronze.

Jamaica and Brazil had finished behind Kenya during the first heat of the mixed 4X400m relays when Mary Moraa had overtaken a Brazilian boy on the last bend as she anchored the last leg for Kenya. While it made news, others had seen it as a gesture of being gentlemen and allowing a lady to cross the finish line first. There was no lady in the final leg of the mixed relay today and Brazil won the gold, Jamaica the silver and South Africa the bronze while Kenya finished fourth.

At the end of the championships, South Africa was on top of the medal table with five gold, three silver and three bronze medals. China followed second with five gold, two silver and four bronze medals. Cuba came third with five gold, two silver and one bronze medal. Kenya was fourth with four gold, seven silver and four bronze medals.

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