Day four at the IAAF World Youth Championships here in Lille concluded with a fantastic showing from Kenya’s Leonard Kirwa Kosencha who set a new World Youth best time of 1:44.08 to win the Boys’ 800m gold medal.
Kosencha had a tremendous championships here in Lille as he opened with a conservative 1:49.32 in the heats before breaking the competition record in yesterday’s semi-finals with 1:47.11.
Fireworks were expected from tonight’s final especially from former World record holder and IAAF Ambassador Wilson Kipketer who was watching from the stands and the race certainly did not disappoint.
Kosencha was determined to run a super-fast race and moved to the front as the athletes broke up after the first bend. He went past the first 200 metres in a stunning 24.60 with the Ethiopian duo of Esrael Awoke and Mohammed Aman on his heels. Hamza Driouch of Qatar and Nijel Amos of Botswana were also closely in contention at this incredible speed.
The pack went through the bell in 50.85 with Kosencha marginally ahead of Aman and team-mate Timothy Kitum who also made his move at the bell.
With 200 metres to go four athletes were still in contention for the title as Driouch was also part of the leading quartet. However he would be the first to drop as Kosencha injected another acceleration entering the final bend.
Kosencha, who hails from the same village as World record holder David Rudisha, broke away and crossed the tape in a new personal best, World Youth leading and World Youth all-time best performance 1:44.08 to regain his country’s stranglehold on the event which the Kenyans lost two years ago in Bressanone.
A string of personal bests were recorded behind the new World Youth champion with Aman taking silver for Ethiopia in 1:44.68 and Kitum in bronze with 1:44.98. Driouch eventually crossed the line in fourth him too setting a new personal best at 1:46.39 with Amos fifth (1:47.28PB) and Awoke sixth (1:48.94PB).
“I am very happy,” said Kosencha, “even if I injured my leg. I get a new record, it’s fantastic. My goal now is to be a star in my country!”
With no fewer than 3 boys under 1:44 and 6 under 1:49 this truly was a stunning closing to today’s competition!
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF