Lille, FranceLess than 30 seconds into the race, it was abundantly clear that for the sixth time in the World Youth Championships, the boys’ 2000m Steeplechase title would end in Kenyan hands. The only question that remained was whether it would ultimately hang around the neck of 2011 world leader Conseslus Kipruto, or his teammate Gilbert Kiplangat Kirui.
The pair’s intentions for a fast race – and as it turned out, it would be one of the fastest ever at this level – were clear from the gun, with Kirui taking to the front with Kipruto following closely. Less than one circuit into the contest, the pair had forged a massive lead with a half dozen others settling into a race for bronze.
It was Kirui who did much of the front-running over the course of the race, passing the first kilometre in a quick 2:37.33, probably not quick enough to threaten Abel Kiprop Mutai’s 5:24.69 Championships record, but well within Kipruto’s 5:29.3 world lead.
Kipruto, who won’t turn 17 until 8 December, made his first move for the win when taking the lead just after the water jump on the penultimate lap, but failed to break away. Little separated the pair down the homestretch and around the final turn, until Kipruto unleashed his ultimately superior kick. His 5:28.65 winning time moved him into No. 7 position in the event all-time.
Kirui was a clear second in 5:30.49, but behind them, with a furious burst over the waning metres, Zacharia Kiprotich of Uganda was third in 5:37.98, edging Moroccan Jaouad Chemlal’s 5:38.26. It was a personal best for the Ugandan and season’s best for the Moroccan.
“With my friend Gilbert, we were dreaming,” Kipruto said, matter-of-factly laying out the simple strategy that kept the Steeplechase title firmly in Kenyan hands.
“We wanted to start fast and run together to win the first two medals. That was our tactic and we tried to keep it. And for the last lap, we sprinted, and I was the best. Both of us are happy.”
Zak Seddon of Great Britain was fifth in 5:40.62, also a personal best.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF