Kenyan middle-distance prospect Dominic Kipkemboi enjoyed an animated but dominant victory in his 1500m heat on Wednesday morning (12), as the world's top teenage athletes got the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017 under way at Kasarani Stadium.
Storming clear at the gun in the first heat of the boys' metric mile, Kipkemboi was carried by a small yet vibrant home crowd, taking no prisoners as he wound up the pace from the start and left his opponents flailing in his wake.
Waving at the crowd down the home straight while holding a huge lead, he seemed to hit a wall and was almost reduced to a walk, but he managed to hold off the charging duo of Algeria’s Oussama Cherrad and Ethiopia’s Abebe Dessassa.
Kipkemboi won in 3:48.77, just 0.16 ahead of Cherrad, progressing to Friday's final as the fastest qualifier.
The second heat was won by fellow Kenyan George Manangoi in 3:55.00, as he dragged seven boys into the final with a well-judged tactical approach.
Earlier, in the opening round of the boys' 100m event, South African pocket rockets Retshidisitswe Mlenga (10.48) and Tshenolo Lemao (10.54) won their respective heats, progressing as the two fastest athletes into the semifinals which were set to be held in the afternoon session.
German speedster Luis Brandner also clocked 10.54 to win his heat, and he was clearly delighted with his personal best, punching the air after his result appeared on the stadium scoreboard.
Title favourite Tyreke Wilson of Jamaica won his heat in 10.60, also progressing without any trouble.
In the men's 400m heats, Jamaican Anthony Cox delivered a stunning effort to shatter his personal best of 47.05, completing the one-lap dash in 46.53.
He was the only boy to run faster than 47 seconds, sticking up his hand as one of the contenders for the podium, though he will need to shake himself off and negotiate his way through the semifinals on Thursday evening to ensure his place in the final.
Meanwhile, in the first round of the girls' 400m sprint, all the medal contenders made their way safely through to the semifinals.
Kenyan Mary Moraa won her heat in a personal best of 54.07 to progress as the fastest qualifier for the penultimate round, with the first four runners in her race setting career records.
On the infield, four girls qualified automatically for the discus final, led by Germany’s Leia Braunagel who achieved a career best of 51.33m.
Silinda Morales (50.54m), fellow Cuban athlete Melany del Matheus (48.30) and Tharina van der Walt of South Africa (48.81m) also managed to reach the automatic qualifying mark of 48.00m.
Yin Yuanyuan of China, one of the favourites on paper with a personal best of 52.41m, barely squeezed through to the next round, with her team breathing a collective sigh of relief after she progressed as the 12th and last qualifier with a 43.53m throw.
Wesley Botton for the IAAF