When it comes to the steeplechase, it’s sometimes simply impossible to beat the Kenyans, and so it proved once again at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 on Friday night (17) as Celliphine Chepteek Chespol and Sandrafelis Chebet Tuei routed the field to take a 1-2 for their nation for the second consecutive time at the championships.
In the end, it was Chespol who secured the victory in a personal best of 6:17.15 ahead of Tuei, who was second in 6:19.61, with a lengthy gap back to Ethiopia’s Agrie Belachew in third with 6:34.68.
“It was hard, but I gave 100 percent,” said Chespol afterwards.
Indeed, from the moment the gun fired to set the field on their way, the Kenyan duo set off at full throttle and they rarely relented thereafter.
Tuei led through the opening lap with Chespol nestled in her slipstream and by the time they had passed 400m, the rest of the field were already 30 metres in arrears.
Leading the charge from behind through the opening two laps was Hungary’s Lili Toth, who had just Ethiopians Beletu Hailu and Belachew for company.
No respite for the rest
At the front, the pace was searing, with Chespol taking over the lead after two laps and going through 1000m in 2:57.75.
Unsurprisingly, Hungary’s Lili Toth and the Ethiopian pair were already 70 metres behind at that point, a gap that continued to grow over the closing laps.
As Chespol and Tuei approached the water jump together for the penultimate time with 550 metres to run, the gold medal was still all to play for, but Tuei’s unorthodox technique – which saw her hurdle the barrier and land with both feet – proved her eventual downfall.
Tuei planted with both feet in the water on landing, lost her footing and stumbled forward, allowing her team-mate to open a 10-metre lead.
Though she continually closed that gap between barriers over the final lap, Chespol’s superior hurdling technique constantly kept her team-mate at arm’s length and in the end, she came home a worthy winner in 6:17.15, with Tuei two seconds behind.
“I have never competed outside Kenya before so this is my first big victory,” said Chespol.
Behind the Kenyan duo, the battle for bronze was won by Belachew, who came home in 6:34.68.
Toth, who had been so brave during the early laps in trying to chase the Kenyans, eventually paid for her exertions and faded rapidly over the closing laps to finish 11th.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF