With seven medals on the last day of competition at the World Athletics Under-20 Championships at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani, Kenya finished top of the medal standings with a cumulative count of 16 medals.
The hosts scooped eight gold medals, one silver and seven bronze, surpassing the mark of 11 they collected when they won the overall team title at the last Championships in Tampere, Finland, in 2018.
Kenya’s gold medalists were Emmanuel Wanyonyi (800m), Amos Serem, Jackline Chepkoech (3,000m steeplechase), Teresia Muthoni (3000m) Vincent Keter, Purity Chepkirui (1500m), Benson Kiplangat (5,000m), Heristone Wanyonyi (10,000m walk).
The lone silver was won by Zena Jemutai in the 3,000m while Noah Kibet (1500m), Levy Kibet (5,000m), Simon Koech, Faith Cherotich (3,000m steeplechase), Sylvia Chelangat (400m), Winnie Jemutai (1500m) and the 4x400m men’s relay team winning bronze.
On the last day of competition, Kenya was in imperious form, keen to end the competition on a high and they did so with seven medals; three gold and four bronze.
Emmanuel Wanyonyi stormed to Kenya’s first gold of the day on Sunday with victory in the 800m. He won the race a championship record time of 1min, 43.76secs.
The Kenyan put on the afterburners in the homestretch, taking the title ahead of Algeria’s Mohamed Ali Gouaned who ran a new Algerian Under-20 record while Noah Kibet was third in a new personal best time of 1min, 44.88secs.
“This race had a lot of pressure and that is why I ran that kind of time. I knew there was no way I was going to lose this title and even when I felt my body tiring, the little adrenaline I had left in me pushed me to the finish line,” Wanyonyi said after the race.
Just as they had planned pre-race, the two Kenyans were front runners and blazed the pace right from the onset. The two were leading at the bell with Kibet upfront and Wanyonyi on his shoulder.
Kibet however faded off at the final bend with the Algerian sandwiching them. But, Wanyonyi was relentless, kicking away in the final 100m to ensure victory was secured.
Kenya’s second gold of the day came in the 1500m courtesy of Purity Chepkirui.
She sprinted to victory, standing off pressure from Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji to clinch the title in a time of 4mins 16.07secs. Compatriot Winnie Jemutai came home third for bronze.
“This was my first time ever to represent Kenya and I am really proud to have won. It was a very tough race especially at the end when the Ethiopian started to push, but I was determined to win gold and I couldn’t let go,” Chepkirui said after the race.
In the final two laps of the race, Chepkirui, Jemutai as well as the Ethiopian duo of Welteji and Hiwot Mehari amped the pace with Chepkirui in the lead.
At the bell, Mehari was dropped off and it remained a three-horse race. Chepkirui further blazed the pace with Welteji following her, but despite efforts to close the gap and nick in at the finish line, the Kenyan held her own for the win.
Welteji was second in 4mins, 16.39secs while Jemutai was third in 4mins, 18.99secs.
Amos Serem then stepped up for the third gold of the day and did it in entertaining fashion.
Even before crossing the finish line, Serem was already celebrating and punching the air, urging the crowd on as he streamed to the finish line.
Serem clocked 8mins, 30.72secs to clinch gold ahead of Ethiopia’s Tadese Takele who timed 8:33.15 as Simon Koech, who won the Kenyan trials, finished third for bronze in 8:34.79.
“It was a tough race but I was very confident Kenya would win the gold. We had a very good tactic as a team with Koech and we executed it well,” Serem said after the race.
Serem and compatriot Koech broke away from the leading pack with three laps to go and with them, went Ethiopian Tadese. At the bell, the Ethiopian slid past Serem to shadow Koech who was leading.
Citing the Ethiopian gliding through on his side, Serem pumped up the pace and at the last water hurdle skipped over with a good bounce before gliding to the finish.
Meanwhile, the men’s relay clinched bronze in the 4x400m, finishing behind Jamaica and winners Botswana.