Bett gears up to hold Kenya’s 3,000m steeplechase grip as Mpoke and Mucheru thirst to go past 400m hurdles

By Denis Okeyo: Thursday, July 12th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics

Rhonex kipruto on his way to win men's 10000m finals at Ratina stadium, Tampere, Finland on July 1o, 2018. [Dennis Okeyo, Standard]

World Under-18 800m champion Jackline Wambui secured a place in today’s final after qualifying as the fastest loser as the IAAF World Under-20 Championships got underway yesterday.

Wambui timed 2:03.3 to finish fourth in her semi-final one contest won by Ethiopian Fireweyni Hailu in 2:01.9. Delia Sclabas of Switzerland was third in 2:02.1.

In another semis, Lydia Jeruto was bundled out of the championship after finishing fourth in 2:04.5. Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji (2:01.8) won the heat while katy Ann of Great Britain was third in 2:03.2. “The competition was a bit tough, my body didn’t respond well especially with 200m left. But I’m glad to have made to the final,” said Wambui, a recruit at Kenya Prisons Service.

On Tuesday evening, Rhonex Kipruto added another jewel to his Africa Junior Cross Country title he won in Chlef, Algeria, last March.

He raced to gold medal in 10,000m in a championship record of 27:21.08 to steer Kenya’s gold medal tally to two -after Beatrice Chebet struck Kenya’s maiden gold in women 5,000m in the 32-year history of the IAAF World Under-20 Championships.

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That was Kenya’s ninth title in the championships’ history. “I knew I had a winning formula. I was confident despite having Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda (the IAAF World  Junior Cross Country Champion) in the field.

“ I just opted to stick to my coaches instructions. I decided to keep the pace too high and burn him out. I am happy for the win,” said Kipruto.

Solomon Boit, who is Kipruto’s training mate at St. Patrick’s High school Iten, dictated the proceedings from the gun and finished fourth in 27:57.44 while the pre-race favourite Kiplimo settled for silver in 27:40.36.

Ethiopian Berihu Aregawi, who kept close tabs for the first twelve laps, sped in the final lap to take bronze in a personal best time of 27:48.41. Boit came fourth in 27:57.44.

Meanwhile, World Under-18 2,000m steeplechase champion Leonard Bett will compete in his specialty heat hoping to extend Kenya’s dominance in the race where Kenya has won 15 out 16 championships.

Bett, 18, will be a lone ranger after Athletics Kenya failed in their quest to enter another runner after Philemon Ruto pulled out with injury.

Moitalel Mpoke and James Mucheru will line up 400m hurdles heats today.