Jackline Wambui knew she would perform well in the IAAF Under 18 World Championships 800m final, but she had no idea that she would post a world-leading time in the process.
Parading against compatriot Lydia Jeruto Lagat and Ethiopian Hirut Meshesha and company on the final day of the championships yesterday at Kasarani, the 17-year-old mustered awesome courage and strength to break the tape in a World U18 leading time of 2:01.46.
Lagat was second in a personal best of 2:02.06, while Ethiopian Meshesha won a bronze medal in 2:06.32.
It was Lagat, who had entered the event with the fastest performance this season, but she was beaten by Wambui at the national U18 championships, so it was unclear which one of the Kenyans was the favourite.
When she was introduced moments before the race, Wambui pointed to the cameraman, perhaps a warning sign to her competitors. She had made up her mind and there was no turning back.
It was a tight affair as the group chased for world glory in the two-lap race. There was little time for the Kenyan athletes to throw glances over their shoulders or even share notes. It was that close.
Wambui injected pace at 200m to take the field of eight athletes 1:04.35 at the bell. Meshesha was an obvious bother to the two Kenyans and would pop in between them, but Wambui was not ready to let go off the sweet lead.
And when they hit the final 200m, it was time for the Kenyans to break away. One thing was certain: Kenya was assured of the coveted medal. The question was who would win it.
With the tape in sight, Wambui knew this was her moment and she took the chance in both hands.
"I feel great and thank God for helping me get this far. Coming into the finals I was thinking of nothing but a win and I am happy I won," said Wambui.
A clear contrast to Saturday, when the Kenyans went home a dejected lot after being upstaged by the Ethiopians, it was their chance to bask in glory.
When Wambui broke the tape, the partisan crowd responded in kind. The spectators were filled with pride as they sung the Kenyan National Anthem, while Wambui proudly displayed her coveted medal. To them, it was sweet revenge for that woeful Saturday afternoon show.
As Wambui and most of the thousands inside Kasarani savoured the win, Lagat was wishing for a better medal.