Margaret Nyairera Wambui ran the race of her life, three seconds faster than her previous lifetime best which she set in Wednesday’s semifinal, as she won over two laps of the track in 2:00.49.
In her first season of high level competition, the 17-year-old sprinted away from Cuba’s pre-race favourite Sahily Diago, attacking from 70 metres out, to claim Kenya’s fourth junior title in the women’s 800m but the first one in 12 years.
Iceland’s Anita Hinriksdottir went out astonishingly hard and broke the group into two as she hit the first 200 metres in 27.24 and covered the first lap in a blistering 56.33 as Kenya’s Maximila Imali bowed out of the fight for the medals after falling 150 metres into the race.
The world youth and European junior champion could not sustain her pace and at just before 550 metres Hinriksdottir started to flag badly, before Wambui and Diago closed the five-metre advantage she held and swept past her midway down the back straight.
After covering 600m in 1:27.87, Wambui and Diago continued to battle around the bend before entering the final stretch, where the former proved too strong for the Cuban, crossing the line in the second-fastest winning time in the history of the championships. Her time of 2:00.49 is also an African youth best.
Diago came home for second in 2:02.11, ahead of Australia’s Georgia Wassall, who came out on top of a duel with her compatriot Georgia Griffith for the bronze medal, stopping the clock in 2:02.71.
The luckless Hinriksdottir, her tactics having gone badly awry, eventually stepped to the side of the track with about 90 metres to go.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF