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Unstoppable Cherotich earns Kenya third gold in Cali

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Faith Cherotich celebrates after winning
  • Faith Cherotich led the race from start to finish
  • She had finished third at last year’s Championship
  • Kenya now has three gold medals in Cali

Soft-spoken 17-year-old Faith Cherotich led from start to finish as she clinched the women’s steeplechase title at the World Under-20 Championships in Cali, Colombia.

Cherotich, a Form Three student, who won bronze at last year’s Championship upgraded the colour of her medal and she did it in a commanding fashion.

She clocked a winning time of 9:16.14 ahead of the Ethiopian duo of Sembo Almayew and Meseret Yeshaneh. Almayew clinched silver in a time of 9:30.41 while Yeshaneh timed 9:42.02.

The other Kenyan in the race Pamela Kosgei finished fifth.

“I am really happy because I had decided from the word go that I will go into the lead straight from the start. I knew the Ethiopians are dangerous in the last lap because of their powerful kick. So rather than play into their strategy I decided to take control of the race from the onset,” she said after the race.

“It is really a huge delight for me because last year I won bronze and now I have managed gold. I got a lot of confidence from running in the Kip Keino Classic as well as the Kenyan trials for the World Championships and that prepared me well for this race,” she added.

Went straight into the lead

Just like she did in the preliminaries, Cherotich went straight into the lead from the start, and split the pack into two as they went round for the first lap. Compatriot Kosgei, the two Ethiopians and Ugandan Loice Chekwemoi were right behind her in the chasing pack.

Faith Cheoritch

Faith Cheoritch clears the water jump at the World Athletics U20 Championships at Pascual Guerrero stadium on August 3, 2022 in Cali, Colombia. (ERICK BARASA)

With five laps to go, the field had further broken down to only Cherotich and the two Ethiopians, but it was a two-horse race with two to go.

But, Cherotich had already started opening up a massive gap on Almayew which grew to 50 metres and at the bell was slightly over 70m.

The pint-sized Kenyan didn’t look behind a shoulder even for a minute and comfortably sailed to victory, just missing out on the Championship record held by compatriot Celiphine Chespol.

Mutunga earns silver in the 400m

Elsewhere, Damaris Mutunga earned Kenya its sixth medal at the World Under-20 storming to silver in the women’s 400m.

Mutunga who had progressed to the final as a non-automatic qualifier showed superb mettle and fighting spirt to finish second in a new National Under-20 record time of 51.71 behind American Yemi Mary John who timed a Personal Best of 51.50.

Starting off in Heat Five, Mutunga was not a much talked about figure in the race but she used that as fodder to her ambitions.

She was smooth off the blocks and escalated her pace at the first bend. At the home stretch she was within the sight of Briton Mary Jane and bending in to the final 100, she burst into good pace to ensure she edged out India’s Rupal who came in third.

Kenya has so far won three gold, a silver and two bronze with two days of competition left.

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