At 18 years and 262 days Abubaker Kaki Khamis became the youngest ever World Indoor champion when winning a superb 800m final this evening in Valencia.
And what a race it was. The Sudanese African champion who has been impressive in Friday’s and yesterday’s preliminary rounds had a clear tactic: take the lead and never give it up! Not only did he do it, but he did it in style.
Starting from lane three, Kaki powered through the first 200m in 24.92 with Olympic silver medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, 2005 European Indoor champion Dmitriy Bogdanov and Asian record holder Yusuf Saad Kamel closely on his heels.
The Sudanese increased his tempo and opened a two-metre gap with two laps to go, the halfway mark being reached in 51.26.
Kamel made his move with three hundred metres to go and passed Bogdanov on the outside but Mulaudzi wouldn’t give up his second position. The South African held off Kamel as Kaki still clearly in front reached the bell in 1:18.28.
Kaki concluded his astonishing display with a 26.53 last lap improving Russia’s Yuriy Borzakowski’s World leading time to 1:44.81, just one tenth of a second off Joseph Mutua’s African Indoor record.
Finishing fast Mulaudzi did try to close the gap but had to be content with yet another silver medal in a national indoor record 1:44.91 after he’d already claimed second in Moscow two years ago.
In third Kamel set a new Asian record 1:45.26 to take Bahrain’s third medal in the history of these championships.
In fourth, Latvia’s Dmitrijs Milkevics set a new national indoor record of 1:45.72 holding off the challenge of Bogdanov and US champion Nyck Symmonds who, as every other athlete in this race, also set personal bests in what was arguably one of the most exciting finals of the championships.
“My coach told me to go to the front and run as fast as possible and these tactics were good today,” said Kaki. “I have won gold and I’m happy. For the summer, I think I can break the World Junior record and run well in Beijing,” he concluded referring to Japheth Kimutai’s category standard of 1:43.64.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF