Jackline Wambui wins the girls' 800m at the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017 (© Getty Images)
It was a dominant performance by the two Kenyan girls in the 800m final, with Jackline Wambui taking the gold in 2:01.46, equalling the world U18 lead, and her teammate Lydia Jeruto Lagat second in a PB of 2:02.06.
The two home nation athletes left their rivals a long way behind in the two-lap race, with the bronze medallist, Hirut Meshesha of Ethiopia, clocking 2:06.32.
“I feel great after the race,” the winner said. “Coming into the final, I was thinking of nothing but a win.”
Lagat was not disappointed with silver. “I am overjoyed,” she stated. “My teammate ran a good race. She pushed me and I managed to attain a personal best.”
It was Lagat who had entered the event with the fastest performance this season, but she was beaten by Wambui at the national U18 championships, so it was unclear which one of the Kenyans was the favourite.
Meshesha was the one who took it out on the first lap, with Wambui right on her shoulder throughout. The first lap took 1:01.53 for the leader, but it got even faster in the second half. The two home-nation athletes made the decisive move at the 500-metre mark, moving past the Ethiopian with ease. Within 100 metres, they were already several metres ahead and kept pulling farther away from their rivals.
Wambui was the one in the lead from the moment the Kenyans moved ahead. She maintained the lead through the final curve to enter the home straight in first place. Lagat refused to give up and tried to attack in the final 100 metres, but it was all in vain. Wambui pulled ahead again and crossed the finish line first in 2:01.46, more than five seconds faster than she had ever run before. The winner covered the final lap within one minute, an amazing feat for an U18 athlete.
Lagat was rewarded for her effort with a silver medal and a personal best of 2:02.06.
There was then a big gap back to third, with Meshesha taking bronze nearly five seconds behind the winner, although she, in turn, was more than two seconds ahead of the fourth-placed Milena Korbut of Poland, who reached the line in 2:08.45, with Chaimae Ismaili of Morocco in fifth with 2:09.78.
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF