World youth champions Yomif Kejelcha and Rosefline Chepngetich were among the winners at the African Youth Games, the official trial event for African athletes for this year’s Youth Olympic Games.
The four-day competition (28-31 May) was held in the altitude of Gaborone in Botswana, but it did not seem to bother the likes of Kejelcha and Chepngetich.
Kejelcha emerged the victor over 3000m, the same event in which he struck gold at last year’s IAAF World Youth Championships. Winning by almost 10 seconds from Kenya’s Moses Koech, Kejelcha clocked 7:56.51, the fastest time in the world so far this year by a youth athlete.
Chepngetich was another comfortable winner. She won the girls’ 2000m steeplechase in 6:21.81 to finish almost three seconds in front of Ethiopia’s Zewdenesh Mamo.
As expected, the middle-distance events provided some of the better quality contests. Ethiopia’s world youth silver medallist Berhan Demiesa won the girls’ 3000m in 9:18.97, while Kenya reigned supreme in the boys’ middle-distance events as Anthony Kiptoo won the 800m (1:52.07) and Gilbert Kwemoi took the 1500m (3:45.39).
But surprisingly, Kenya didn’t win the boys’ 2000m steeplechase. Instead, that title went to Ethiopia’s Wegene Sebsibe in a world-youth-leading 5:35.86.
Botswana’s Thebe and Sibanda impress in the long sprints
Outside of the endurance events, there were strong performances in the shorter disciplines too.
Botswana’s Baboloki Thebe delighted the home crowd by winning the 200m in a PB of 20.85. Two days earlier, team-mate Karabo Sibanda took the 400m in 46.77, winning by almost half a second from Kenya’s Ian Mutuku, the fourth-place finisher from last year’s World Youth Championships.
Ethiopia’s Genet Lira was even more dominant in the women’s one-lap final. She won in 52.40, finishing more than a second ahead of Nigeria’s Edidiong Odiong.
Habe sets African youth best
Egypt’s Esraa Mohamed Habe was a class apart in the girls’ hammer final. She won by more than 10 metres and set an African youth best of 66.26m.
One day later, compatriot Ahmed Tarek Ismail made it an Egyptian hammer double as he won the boys’ contest with a throw of 77.76m, more than 16 metres ahead of his nearest opponent.
The other leading field event mark of the competition came in the boys’ long jump, which was won by Algeria’s Yasser Triki with a leap of 7.63m.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF