Heristone Wanyonyi strolled himself to history, becoming the first ever Kenyan to clinch gold in the walking race at any level of world championship.
Wanyonyi clinched victory at the World Under-20 Championships 10,000m walk on Saturday, clocking a new personal best time of 42mins, 10.84 seconds. No Kenyan has ever won a medal in the walking race at the Championship.
“I am really delighted to have won gold today. It was tough but I am thankful that I managed. With four laps remaining, I knew that I was going to win gold. I had energy and I knew in the final lap I would have everything in the tank to push and win,” said Wanyonyi.
He added; “This gold is a huge motivation for not only me but also the upcoming generations. I have shown the way that it is possible and they should take up the sport.”
The Kenyan had stuck to the back of the pack for the opening six laps of the race. But began to move to the front as the time went on. He broke away from the leading pack following in the footsteps of Indian Amit with more than eight laps remaining.
Slowly, Wanyonyi and Amit started breaking away from the rest of the pack and with five laps left, it was clear that gold and silver was between the two.
With two laps left, Amit was leading and tried to inject some pace. Wanyonyi however stuck to the Indian. At the bell, the Kenyan made his move, striding forward past Amit and creating a sizeable lead.
Amit’s attempt at a response was unsuccessful and could only watch as he came home for second with a time of 42:17.94 while McGrath was third in 42:26.11, a new Personal Best time.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan 4 x 400m relay team blasted into Sunday’s final after progressing top of their heat. The Kenyan quartet of Joshua Wanyonyi, Elkanah Kiprotich, Kennedy Kimeu and Peter Kithome produced a stellar performance to ensure they were in the final.
“We are really pleased to have made the final. After the mixed relay team was disqualified on day one, we made a review with our coaches and corrected what we had done wrong. It is a relief for us to make this final,” Kithome said after the final.
“We have seen that it is possible to medal. We were really fearing the Jamaicans but basing on what we have seen, I believe that we have the ability to get a medal. We will be going for gold,” added Kithome.
The Kenyans were trailing the Jamaicans heading to the anchor leg, having exchanged smoothly at the last interval. Jeremy Bembridge picked up the baton cleanly before using his long strides to gallop away.
However, Kithome who was doing the anchor leg dug deep in the final 100m to close in the gap and go beyond the Jamaican in the last 10m.
The Kenyans clocked 3:05.77 ahead of the Jamaicans while Botswana was third.