Justin Lagat wrote this piece about Faith Cherotich’s fine steeplechase at the U20 World Champs in Cali, Columbia.
Kenya’s Faith Cherotich doesn’t let the decisions of others affect hers. That seemed to have been the message she was passing out when the starter gun hadn’t appropriately sounded, and the rest of the field started to run during the semi-finals. She stood her ground, and the rest were re-called to the start line.
In the final of the women’s 3000m steeplechase race on the fourth day of the World Athletics U20 championships in Cali, the 2021 World under 20 bronze medalist took to the front soon after the gun went off. Behind her, the chasing pack kept whittling down until five remained, then three. Two Ethiopians, Sembo Almayew and Meseret Yeshaneh, in a spirited effort, tried their best to stay in contact with her in the last few laps of the race, but the gap between them and Cherotich kept stretching.
Almost 100m ahead of her nearest competitor, Cherotich crossed the finish line in 9:16.14 to successfully upgrade her bronze medal to gold. Almayew finished second in 9:30.41 for the silver medal, ahead of Yeshaneh in 9:42.02 for the bronze.
This was the third gold medal for Kenya after Reynold Cheruiyot had won the 1500m race the previous evening in an impressive 3:35.83. This was after a strong finish that saw him extend his lead on Ethiopia’s Ermias Girma, who finished 2nd in 3:37.24, and fellow countryman Daniel Kimaiyo who took the bronze medal in 3:37.43. The first gold medal for Kenya had come from Betty Chelangat in the 3000m event on the first day of the championships.
Just after Cherotich’s win, there was a surprise silver medal for Kenya in the women’s 400m final coming from Damaris Mutunga, who ran a personal best and a national u20 record of 51.71 behind Great Britain’s Mary John, who also ran a personal best time of 51.50 for the gold medal, and ahead of Rupal from India with yet another personal best time of 51.85.
Earlier, another bronze medalist from the 2021 U20 championships –just like Cherotich- also made it to the semi-finals in the men’s 800m, another promising gold prospect for Kenya. Noah Kibet won his heat and will be hoping to proceed from the semi-finals on the 5th day to the finals on the final day of the championships.