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Kenya off to strong start as world youth
championships start in Nairobi       

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Hosts Kenya started off their medal hunt on a good note as Dominic Kipkemboi and George Manangoi dominated the boys’ 1,500m to qualify for the final of the World Under-18 Championships on Wednesday in Nairobi.

Manangoi and Kipkemboi led from the front to stamp their authority and send a clear message to the host’s rivals that Kenya was out to rule the roost at the final World Youth Championships.

Kipkemboi opted to take his traditional gun-to-tape performance, winning the first semi-final in 3:48.77 after cruising through 800m in 1:55.79 and 1200m in 2:58.17.

Kipkemboi beat Algeria’s Oussama Cherrad who came in second in 3:48.93 ahead of Abebe Dessassa from Ethiopia in third taking 3:49.58 to all qualify.

George, the younger brother of world 1,500m silver medalist Elijah Manangoi, stayed in the middle of the pack before going second behind Ethiopian Belete Mekonen at the bell.

Mekonen, who clocked 3:16.41 past 1200, fell behind Manangoi, who kicked with 300m to go to win in 3:55.00.

“I had a lot of respect for my opponents though I did not want to strain myself very much because I’m eyeing the top podium finish on Friday. I lost to Kipkemboi during last month’s trials but now I believe in myself. I have been training well, I’m in good shape and I hope to lower my personal best on Friday,” said Managoi.

In another race, Kenyans Mary Moraa and Sharon Jebet sparked to form and claimed their spots in the girls’ 400m semifinals.

Moraa, staged a tactical race to triumph in a personal best of 54.07 having held on to the lead by the 300m mark to go.

A late surge from Brazilian Rosalia Dos Santos Giovana at the last bend could only trigger her sprint as she pulled out stronger in the final straight to win in a personal best of 54.29 ahead of Giovana while Serbia’s Sekulic Kataria came in third also in her best time of 54.86 to qualify for the semifinals from the second heat.

Meanwhile, Uganda athletes are keen to return home with some silverware. The team of six arrived in Nairobi on Monday and went straight to training.

The Uganda team has Daniel Kiprop and Hosea Kiplangat in 1500m, Joshua Kibet and Bekele Apenyo in 800m, Sarah Chelengat and Esther Chekwemoi 3000m and Daniel Kiprop in 1500m.

The team was received by IAAF head Sebastian Coe who said, “This event is so helpful as it prepares young athletes for bigger games in future.”

Coe thanked Uganda and Kenya for hosting the two big events of the IAAF this year and that is the World Cross Country in Uganda on March 23 and the IAAF U18 Championships starting today in Kenya.



China wins gold, bronze in boys javelin at World U18 C’ ships in Kenya

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- China won their first gold medal on the second day of the World U18 Championship in Nairobi through Liu Zhekai, who set a personal best throw of 77.54 meters.

It was the third medal for China after having won two medals, a silver and a bronze on the first day on Monday.

Another Chinese athlete Song Qingshu also won bronze in the boys’ javelin to take the Asian giants medal tally to four. South Africa’s Johannes Schlebusch won silver in a personal best throw of 75.68 meters.

Germany leads the medal table with two gold and one bronze medals with South Africa second with four medals - One gold, two silver and one bronze.

However, the day’s highlight came in the final track event of the day, the boys’ 110m hurdles heats.

Running in the first heat, De’Jour Russell of Jamaica took his personal best from 13.31 (already a world-U18-leading time this year) all the way to 13.08.

The time made him the second fastest U18 athlete of all time, behind his compatriot Jaheel Hyde’s world U18 best of 12.96.

None of the other hurdlers came close to Russell’s performance, but there were other notable runs, including the remaining heat winners: Enrique Llopis of Spain with 13.47 (a personal best by 0.25), Lu Hao-hua of Chinese Taipei with 13.57 and Saoud Al-Humaidi of Qatar with 13.72.

The early exit of Zayed Al Shamsi of the United Arab Emirates was also notable. The third fastest U18 athlete this year with 13.43 finished only sixth in his heat in 14.70 and was eliminated.

There was also some extravagant running in the heats of the boys’ 3000m. Not content with merely qualifying for the final, the African favourites achieved some extraordinary times, especially considering Nairobi’s high altitude.

Selemon Barega of Ethiopia took the first heat in 7:55.73 after running the final kilometer in just outside 2:34.

The performance took him to third on this year’s U18 world list. Stanley Mburu Waithaka of Kenya was the runner-up in 7:59.54, with Oscar Chelimo of Uganda and Merom Goitom of Eritrea both in the 8:08 range.

The pace of the second heat was only slightly more sensible. Edward Zakayo of Kenya took it in 8:04.85, evidently intent on proving a point to his Ethiopian rival Milkesa Mengesha, who finished second in 8:05.87.

The final kilometer took just 2:31 for the winner, much faster than was necessary, considering the first non-automatic qualifier in that race finished some 45 seconds behind.

There were no such displays in round one of the girls’ 800m, although the races featured some impressive running. The fastest of the qualifiers for the semifinals was the Kenyan Jackline Wambui, winner of heat three in 2:08.24, 1.5 seconds ahead of Hirut Meshesha of Ethiopia.

The event favourite, Kenya’s Lydia Jeruto, took heat one in a relatively pedestrian 2:10.37, but looked strong, running the final 200 meters in about 31 seconds.

The second fastest among the entrants, Ethiopian Netsanet Desta strolled to what looked like an easy victory in heat two, but was subsequently disqualified for a lane violation, leaving Vimbayi Maisvoreva of Zimbabwe the winner in 2:11.09.

The final heat winner, in what was the closest of the four races, was Pole Milena Korbut with 2:11.67.


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