Yomif Kejelcha leads the 5000m at the IAAF World Junior Championships Oregon 2014 (© Getty Images)
Ethiopia’s world youth 3000m champion Yomif Kejelcha led for most of the last kilometre to win the men’s 5000m in 13:25.19, his best ever clocking.
Kejelcha’s team mate Yomif Haji, with whom he shared pacing duties in the last third of the race, finished in 13:26.21 for silver, giving Ethiopia a gold-silver sweep. Moses Letoyie of Kenya took bronze in 13:28.11.
Two Ugandans, 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei and Philip Kipyeko, set the early pace, pulling the pack through the first kilometre in 2:43.21 and the second in 5:28.35.
Kenya’s Fredrick Kipkosgei Kiptoo came up and set a rhythm of surges, pushing through the first bend and down the backstretch, then backing off on the second bend and allowing what remained of the pack to collect. The group of eight runners was thinned to six as the group passed 3000m in 8:12.27, then 10:54.13 at 4000m.
By then Haji and then Kejelcha had moved to the front of the pack, Haji taking over at 3600m. As they left 4000m behind, the pack shrunk to six with Cheptegei struggling to hang on to the eventual medal trio.
When they reached the bell at 12:25.63, Kejelcha was unmistakably building a lead, which he proceeded to extend until he reached the homestretch. With the victory in hand, he backed off, allowing Haji to close the gap somewhat but not enough to give up the win.
The Ethiopian team, watching together on the backstretch, celebrated the sweep boisterously as Kejelcha and Haji lay stretched on the track beyond the finish line. Haji, a more compact runner, was up first, but he was unable to lever the lanky Kejelcha to his feet by himself.
Kejelcha is the eighth Ethiopian to win the 5000m at the World Junior Championships. Of the 15 titles awarded to date, eight have gone to Ethiopia and seven to Kenya.
Parker Morse for the IAAF