Kumari Taki wins the 1500m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 (© Getty Images)
Kumari Taki succeeded in his ambition to win a second world title in the 1500m, but last year's world U18 champion had to both literally and figuratively leave everything on the track in order to make it happen.
In a thrilling and scrappy homestretch battle, the 17-year-old Kenyan dove across the finish line to hold off Ethiopian Taresa Tolosa's fierce late race surge to secure the title, 3:48.63 to 3:48.77.
"I knew that the Ethiopian had a stronger kick than me so I had to dive at the line, and I made it," said Taki, whose 3:36.38 from last year's final in Cali remains his personal best. "I wanted this for a long time."
A slow pair of opening laps --1:06.70 at 400m and 2:12.99 at 800m-- played into the hands of kickers like Tolosa and Taki's teammate Anthony Kiptoo. Sensing that, Taki took to the front at the bell and upped the tempo hoping to run the kick out of his pursuers.
Frenchman Baptiste Mischler took chase, with Kiptoo, Tolosa and teammate Asres Guadie jockeying for position through the backstretch. Taki had a two-step lead midway through the final bend, when Kiptoo moved into second. Tolosa made his move as he entered the final stretch, first powering by Kiptoo and readying to storm by Taki as well. But Taki held his positions before making his desperate lunge to secure Kenya’s 10th title in the event
In the blanket finish, Kiptoo held on for bronze in 3:49.00 with Mischler and Indian Ajay Kumar Saroj just a step behind in 3:49.52, with the Frenchman given the nod for fourth.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF