Ethiopia’s Melkeneh Aziz pulled a fast one on Kenyans to snatch gold medal in the men’s 3,000m contest at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships inside Pascual Guerrero Olympic Stadium in Cali, Colombia, yesterday.
Kenya’s Felix Korir and Edwin Kimosong settled for silver and bronze medals, setting new personal bests times of 7:47.86 and 7:49.82 respectively.
The World Under-20 Athletics Championships came to an end this morning.
The race started on a slow pace with Kenyans making brilliant surges even as Ugandans and Ethiopians kept close tabs. But Azize looked composed in the finals as he sprinted to victory.
It came after a superb performance from Azize, who followed a relatively suicidal pace from the outset (57.72 at 400m, 2:00.67 at 800m) laid down by Uganda’s Dan Kibet, but Azize was strong enough to last, powering away to win in 7:44.06, with Korir (7:47.86) and Kimosong (7:49.82) taking silver and bronze.
“This is a huge honour,” said Azize. “I want to say congratulations to my country with this medal. The race was great. All of Cali, the supporters in this stadium, I want to say thank you. This is a beautiful country.”
In the triple jump, Winnie Chepng’etich could not qualify for the final as she placed 11th, having leapt 12.69m.
On an evening when lightning bolts filled the sky, when the crackle of thunder was echoing around Cali, a horde of young Jamaican women brought their own electrical storm to the stadium, shattering the world U20 4x100m record in 42.59 scintillating seconds.
Along with their compatriot Brianna Lyston powering to 200m gold in 22.65 (0.0m/s), and teammate Alana Reid taking bronze, it was proof – as if needed – that the future of women’s sprinting could reside in Kingston.
It’s now 20 years since Usain Bolt announced his talent to the world at these championships when it was staged in the Jamaican capital, and it’s 14 years since Bolt first broke the men’s 100m world record in the wake of a lightning storm in New York.
Earlier in the night, Lyston had shown her potential to be a senior star of Jamaican sprinting when flying to victory over 200m in 22.65 (0.0m/s), with USA’s Jayla Jamison taking silver in a PB of 22.77 and Jamaica’s Alana Reid taking bronze in a PB of 22.95.
Lyston, 18, had endured heartbreak at the last edition of these championships in Nairobi, where she was disqualified in the 200m final for a lane infringement. “It was really hard, I broke down after the race when I heard the news,” she said. “Since I stepped on the line, I tried my best in training not to do it again. I told myself I would come back, train hard, and accomplish this.”
She was the clear favourite for the 200m final, coming significantly ahead of the field on season’s bests, though her nerves weren’t helped by the delay in the programme due to the thunderstorm.