The last day of the IAAF World Under-18 championships at Moi Stadium Kasarani highlighted Kenya’s best day in the hunt of the medals.
Kenya finished fourth in the overall medal standings which was a dismal show compared to previous championships in Cali, Colombia where they placed second behind USA.
At Moi Stadium Kasarani, Kenya got gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze medals behind the leaders South Africa (5,3,3), China (5,2,4) and Cuba (5,2,1) in that order.
Golden delight was on the last day with Jackline Wambui earning Kenya a third gold medal after winning the girls’ 800m and Lydia Jeruto settling for a silver.
Though Edward Zakayo and Mburu Waithaka got silver and bronze in the 3000m despite being the race favourites joyous moment was extended by Leonard Kipkemoi Bett and Kandie Meyan who won gold and silver in the 2000m steeplechase sending crowds into frenzy at the stadium.
Expectations were high for Kenya to earn a medal in the 4X400m mixed relay a last event on the championships calendar having qualified for the final with a win in the heats.
However, their spirited efforts earned them the fourth place after South Africa out-sprinted Kenya in the home straight for bronze. The road to medal standings began on the opening day with Elijah Onkware from Mogonga Secondary School in Kisii as the first Kenyan athlete to take to the track on the opening day of the championships on Wednesday.
He placed third in boys’ 100m heats, advancing to the semis which he bowed out after a slow reaction from the blocks. In the afternoon, Kelvin Tauta Sawe failed to advance to the next stage of thew boys’ 400m. However, Immaculate Chepkurui opened the medal purse with a silver medal in the 3,000m after Ethiopia’s Abersh Minsewo took gold. Advancing to the respective semis and finals in different disciplines on Day 2, it was not so impressive for Kenya in terms of sprints and field events. Some bowed out as Musyoka Mwema finished 13 in boys’ long jump with a personal best time of 6.95m and Ita Nao Leshan set 64.66 personal best time in boys’ javelin.
The delight moment for Kenya materialised on day 3 with teenager George Manangoi earning Kenya the first gold after winning 1,500m race. Caren Chebet and Mercy Chepkirui extended the happiness for the day in the 2000m steeplechase. Chebet won gold while Chepkurui took silver after missing a step on the final water barrier to fall down.
Victor Kiplimo and Faith Kipsang failed to impress in the boys’ hammer throw final and girls’ high jump. Kiplimo though threw 43.61 personal best but Faith registered No Mark (NM). Ednah Jebitok and Rachel Nzangi felt they could have performed better in the girls’ 1500m but they let it slip to the Ethiopians in 1-2 finish as Jebitok settled for a bronze medal. But incredible performance from Samson Ndingiti in the boys’ 10,000m walk gifted him a bronze medal to become the first Kenyan to win a medal in such an event and was for a while the talk of town.
But not after Moitalel Mpoke got a silver medal in the boys 400m hurdles and Mary Moraa anchoring the mixed relay team to heat victory to qualify for the finals.
On the day, Gloria Mulei finished ninth in the girls’ triple jump final while Lenah Nanjala was 14th in the girls’ 5000m walk . Evans Chepchirchir too failed to impress in the boys’ high jump.