This is Justin Lagat’s final piece on the WU20 final day, August 22, 2021. Lots of excitement in the last day. Watch for our photo gallery, thanks to photographers Roger Sedres, Dan Vernon, both sponsored by World Athletics! And thanks to Justin Lagat’s fine social media and daily stories!
It was just one session, the afternoon session, on the final day of the competitions here starting with the men’s Triple Jump final before the 400m hurdles for both men and women. But, it was action-packed. It was an afternoon with fourteen finals on the program and a total of 42 medals to be won.
World records were broken in both the men and women 4 x 100m relays with Jamaican women running a stunning race to record a new world U20 record of 42.94 ahead of Namibia who registered a new national record. In the men’s 4 x100m relay, South Africa ran another sensational 38.51 leading the other podium finishers, Jamaica and Poland to their respective area records.
Similar to the 4x100m relays, both world records got smashed in the 4 x 400m relays. Nigeria broke the women’s record and set a new one of 3:31.46 while Botswana set the new men’s record at 3:05.22.
Perhaps aware that his family was watching him at home, Oska Edlund of Sweden won the 400m hurdles and ran towards the camera at the finish line to celebrate with them, but was later disqualified and the title went to Berke Ackam of Turkey in a new national record of 49.38.
Mohamed Guaned of Algeria sprinted on the backstretch during the men’s 800m final to overtake the two Kenyans at the front, but Emmanuel Wanyonyi came strongly on the home straight to get him before he could reach the finish line. Wanyonyi won gold in a new championship record time of 1:43.76, Guaned took the silver medal while the other Kenyan Noah Kibet won the bronze medal.
With three laps to go in the men’s 3000m steeplechase final, Simon Koech changed the gears and the only other runner who could go with the two Kenyans was Ethiopia’s Tadese Takele. Amos Serem stayed patient till the last 150m when he suddenly pulled away, then motioned to viewers and those present in the stadium to relax as he was confident. Quickly building a big gap, he went to win the gold medal in 8:30.72 before dancing to a song we are yet to know.
Mizan Alem of Ethiopia had the fastest personal best time here of 14:46.20 in the women’s 5000m final, but the pace wasn’t projecting a fast finish time as they crossed the first 1000m in 3:38. The pace began to heat up with seven runners detaching themselves with seven laps to go; then they were six, with six laps to go, and interestingly, five of them with five laps to go. Then, four remained at the front with four laps to go! Coming into the last 2 laps, two Ethiopians pulled away from Uganda’s Priscah Chesang. Alem then broke away from her compatriot coming into the last lap to run a solo run and win the gold medal in 16:05.61. Milcah Wudu and Chesang who followed here got disqualified, Kenya’s Zenah Cheptoo got the silver medal, and Carls Dominguez of Spain got the bronze.