There was no shortage of thrills and spills in the girls’ 2000m Steeplechase contest, but in the end nobody could challenge the dominance of pre-race favourite Norah Jeruto Tanui.
The petite Kenyan, who won’t celebrate her 16th birthday until 2 October, produced one of the most commanding victories of these Championships with her solo 6:16.41 run, the fastest in the world this year, and the third fastest all-time. And if she hadn’t taken a less-than-elegant dip and dive into the final water jump, she just may have challenged the World youth best of 6:11.83 set by Ethiopian Korahubsh Itaa in Bressanone two years ago.
Taking her fall into consideration, her four-and-a-half second margin of victory wasn’t quite illustrative of her performance, one during which she stretched her lead over all but the last of the race’s five laps.
“I’m very happy, I led the whole race,” said Tanui, whose personal best prior to the Championships was 6:25.8. “I also want to congratulate Lilian Chemweno, my friend who won the bronze medal. Together we are very happy.”
Her teammate’s battle for silver was the fiercest of the race. Running well back in second, her runner-up spot seemed secure until the race’s final 300 metres, when Fadwa Sidi Madane of Morocco made her move. The 16-year-old, fourth at the final water jump, made up plenty of ground down the homestraight before finally passing the Kenyan en route to a 6:20.98 clocking, also a personal best. Chemwemo was just a few feet behind in 6:21.85, also a personal best.
A little further back was the Ethiopian duo, Motu Mergersa (6:28.21) and Tejinesh Gebisa (6:29.08) in fourth and fifth, an impressive run for the latter who fell to the ground some two minutes into the race and scraped her way back into the middle of the pack. In the final two metres Gebisa passed Madeleine Meyers (6:29.20) of the USA to nab fifth place.
In a quality race all but one of the 12 finalists improved their career bests.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
- Despite an unplanned dip in the waterjump, Norah Jeruto Tanui took a commanding victory in Lille (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Norah JERUTO TANUI of Kenya leads the field in the Girls 2000 metres steeplechase heats - Day Three - WYC Lille 2011 (Getty Images) © Copyright