Beijing, ChinaTariku Bekele the younger brother of the more famous Kenenisa Bekele achieved what the World record holder for 5000m and 10,000m never managed in his junior career, a World Junior track title, while an outstanding solo performance from Kenya’s Irene Jelagat also delighted a near capacity crowd at the Chaoyang Sport Centre for the last night of the 11th IAAF World Junior Championships.
Tariku can now claim a unique family accolade
I cannot imagine it’s an easy life being the younger brother of a sports’ legend but one of tonight's finals' results should have lifted one athlete’s burden slightly in this respect. Kenenisa Bekele never managed a gold at the World Juniors, his best a silver in 2000, so Tariku Bekele now at least has one unique accolade to his name after dominating proceedings in the men’s 5000m final.
Tariku, 19, was the bronze medallist two years ago, and is an experienced senior circuit traveller, and this competitive background obviously gave him the confidence to control the race even when 10,000m silver medallist Joseph Ebuya of Kenya tried to mix it with him and his Ethiopian team mate Abreham Cherkos Feleke with five laps to go. But Bekele who led through 3000m (8:27.30) was having none of it, and taking back the initiative after one lap of following the Kenyan’s heels, he dashed away to gold in 13:31.34.
Feleke finished in 13:35.95, while Ebuya took his second medal in Beijing with 13:42.93 for bronze.
Everything looked easy for Tariku, but in reality a new pair of shoes which he had NEVER worn before (!!!!) was causing him pain throughout the race. Nothing like making life hard for oneself!
Jelagat from ‘gun to tape’
It is rare that any middle distance race at a major championship falls to a ‘gun to tape’ winner. As had already occurred with a number of finals this week, we watched a masterclass by the winner of the women’s 1500m, Irene Jelagat, this evening.
As the bell sounded we expected the field to close on the 17-year-old - who when starting tonight had a personal best of 4:12.32 - especially considering that she had dictated the pace since the start, and that the small group following her included Japan’s Yuriko Kobayashi, who with 4:07.87 was the fastest of the entrants. But contrary to expectation Jelagat increasingly went away from her pursuers in the last 400m producing a 60 second last lap, to win in 4:08.88 (PB). Another Kenyan Mercy Kosgei was second (4:12.88), with Kobayashi taking bronze by a whisker from Ethiopia’s Emebet Bedada – 4:12.88 to 4:12.94.
Back in sixth there was a national junior record for Serbia (4:16.20) via the feet of Azra Eminovic.
Noga takes centre stage
Artur Noga, 18, who had improved his PB in the qualifying stages of the men’s 110m Hurdles here on 18 August (13.64) destroyed it in the final with a 13.23 run. After one false start the race got away with Noga decisively pulling away from his opponents when coming off the penultimate set of hurdles (new height 99cm). The win was a championship record, which beat France’s first medallist of these championships, Samuel Coco-Viloin, into silver (13:35). Konstadinos Douvalidis of Greece, who had produced an earlier championship event best in the first round, took bronze. Vladimir Zhukov was fourth (13.53). The first four all set national junior records.
Noga, is a fan of Brad Pitt and if he wasn’t an athlete he would be an actor. What a performance he gave tonight!
Samuels adds Junior to Youth honours
The women’s Discus Throw provided yet another solo demonstration of the prodigious talent of a winner in Beijing. This time it was the turn of Australia’s Dani Samuels to turn on the style in the Chaoyang Sport Centre.
While her nearest opponent was 2.60m away from the 60m sector line, Australia’s World Youth champion sent the Discus clear over that white taped boundary on three occasions, her best being a third round 60.63m, a world season junior lead. This was a personal best, and so was her winning distance in Marrakesh at last summer’s World Youths. This is a major star in the making.
Saili Pan (57.40m) and Jian Tan (56.09m) brought home a minor medal double for the hosts, and there was a Belgian junior record in fourth from Annekies Peetroons (54.42).
A straight forward win for Radzivil
Uzbekistan’s Svetlana Radzivil’s 1.91m was also a national record for her age group, easily enough to take the women’s High Jump gold. A straight forward competition of little drama saw Radzivil take gold on her second time approach to the bar at that height. She had had first time clearances at her previous four heights. China took silver via Xingjuan Zheng (1.88), and was the only other athlete to challenge at 1.91m. In bronze was Germany's Engel Annett tied with Kazakhstan’s Yevseyeva Yekaterina (1.84m).
Compaoré continues dramatic season’s improvement
France finally got its first gold medal in Beijing in the final field event to finish at these championships. The men’s Triple Jump was taken by the Alsace based Benjamin Compaoré, whose father came from Burkino Faso. The 19-year-old began 2006 with an outdoor personal best of 16.00m, and after two revisions of this mark during the summer, and equalling his then best of 16.34m in the qualifying round here, he walked away from the final tonight with 16.61m as his new career height, set into a head wind (-0.5m/s).
Ecuador’s Hugo Chila took silver (16.49m), and China’s Minwei Zhong with a last round rally took bronze (16.29m)
RELAYS - Slick changes and dramatic falls
Viewing from a distance, the change over between America's second to third leg runners didn’t look that fluid but the final hand over of the baton between Elizabeth Olear and Gabby Mayo, was slick and with it USA’s women’s 4x100m squad powered to a 43.49 second win. France took silver (44.20), and Jamaica the bronze (44.22).
In the men’s sprint relay Germany’s luck ran out in the second and third exchanges, with both incoming runners tripping over in dramatic style after the baton reached the next runner. The final handover, or the attemopt at it was so desperate that the end result was a DNF next to GER on the result sheet. But the Germans were not in contention for a medal at that point, as the campaign for honours was being fought out by Jamaica, USA and Britain, and that’s how they finished. Yohan Blake beat off the opposition in a world junior season’s lead of 39.05. USA followed with 39.21, and GBR was next, 39.24.
USA were emphatic winners of the women’s 4x400m, never looking back after Brandi Cross on the second leg passed Nigeria for the lead. The USA closed out in 3:29.01, a world season’s junior lead, Nigeria took silver (3:30.84), while Jamaica finished in bronze after the attack from Kelise Spencer, the 400m Hurdles gold medallist this week, dried up in the last 100 metres.
The last event of these championships also went to USA, with Chris Carter, the men’s one-lap hurdles winner bringing home a world junior season’s leading win in 3:03.76. Russia followed in 3:05.13 for silver, a national junior record, as was the time of Kenya (3:05.54) in fourth. Making up about 20 metres in the last lap (44.27 split) was Martyn Rooney who narrowly clinched bronze for Britain ahead of the east Africans (3:05.49).
Finally, did you know that Carter who anchored home the USA gold was the son of…?! No, don’t worry, I’m not going down that particular track again... http://www.iaaf.org/WJC06/news/Kind=2/newsId=35825.html
But signing off from this particular track in the Chaoyang Sport Centre, Beijing, after an entertaining six days of competition is…
Chris Turner for the IAAF
Click here for Finals’ Event Reports