If there were any doubts about Kenya’s distance running dominance among the generation of athletes at these 3rd IAAF World Youth Championships, then they will have been thoroughly dispelled by a 20-minute spell here at Sherbrooke.
First, the familiar Kenyan one-two in their national event, the steeplechase. Then, with the next track event, the men’s 1500 metres, another gold-silver medal sweep, with a potential new star in Benson Marrianyi Esho unearthed, as he took the title from the grasp of his more fancied countryman, Samson Kiplangat Ngetich.
Ngetich came into the championships nearly seven seconds quicker than his nearest rival - who happened to be Esho. So the favourite was probably more disadvantaged by the snail-like 66.98sec first lap led by Ethiopia’s Tola Kene.
To remedy that, Negtich went to the front and reeled off two sub-58sec laps that strung out the field, leaving just Esho, Kene and South Africa’s Isaac Mboyaza in contention as the bell was reached in 2:47.95.
With 300 to run, it looked as if it would be Esho who would be run out of the medals, as a two-metre gap opened between him and the front three. And then the 16-year-old Esho’s telescopic legs shot out and he took off with the sort of sudden, joyous explosion of pace only Kenyans seem to manage.
He waited on Ngetich’s shoulder until the home straight, and then struck for home. Ngetih had no answer, as Esho was one of four in the first five to collect personal bests, with 3:44.94 to Ngetich’s 3:45.13, Mboyaza winning the sprint for bronze from Kene, 3:48.05 to 3:48.22.