Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Women's 800m: Historic Win for Janeth Jepkosgei
Day 4 of the 2007 IAAF World Track and Field Championshiops in Osaka, Japan saw one Kenyan tradition continue - utter domination of the steeplechase with a 1-2-3 sweep - and perhaps a new tradition started- Kenyan success in women's running.
People talk of Kenyan domination of distance running, but in reality that talk should not have included the Kenyan women in the senior ranks up to this point. Since the start of the World Championships in 1983 until these championships, there have been 16 editions of the Championships and Olympics. The Kenyan women have a grand total of 12 medals (5 from the marathon). So Kenya has averaged less than 1 medal on the track for every 2 global championship. And they only had 1 gold medal on the track ever (Sally Barsosio 1997) (2 counting the marathon).
Make that two now, as Janeth Jepkosgei absolutely dominated the women's 800m, leading wire to wire to run a world leading and personal best 1:56.04 for the win. Not only was it Kenya's second gold ever on the track on the women's side, it was their first medal ever for women at the 800m or 1500m.
Jepkosgei did have great success in 2006 with a Commonwealth Games title and world leading 1:56.66. However, coming into these Championships she had only run 1:59.87 this year. But she breezed a 1:56.17 in her semifinal and was the favorite in the final.
Jepkosgei Led from the Gun
The pack was led by former NCAA star at USC Brigita Langerholc of Slovenia and Mayte Martinez of Spain. Maria Mutola the 4 time World Champion was in 4th.
Jepkosgei kept leading onto the backstretch where Mutola and Hasna Benhassi of Morocco made their moves. Both went around Langerholc and Martinez and began the chase for Jepkosgei. They closed the gap and caught up to Jepkosgei (600 in 2:16.19) on the turn with Mutola on the inside and Benhassi on the outside.
Was the opening pace too fast for Jepkosgei?
Jepkosgei began to pull away on the final stretch as she kicked for home and was able to maintain the pace she had been going since the opening 200m and Mutola and Benhassi slowed. 70 meters from the finish, Mutola inexplicably stepped off the track and fell on top of a photographer in the infield. Benhassi easily got the silver as Mayte Martinez of Spain ran a personal best 1:57.62 for the bronze. Mutola did not appear to be injured. Perhaps Jepkosgei had just utterly exhausted the great champion Mutola.
Benhassi who came into the competition battling illness but gained confience throughout acknowledged the blistering pace of Jepkosgei was too much. She said afterwards, "In the final, I'd have liked to go for gold but the pace was suicidal, so I opted for a cautious start and relied on my finish.".
Jepkosgei's gold for Kenya (2nd ever on the track for women, and first medal ever in the mid distances) on Tuesday was unprecedented and super impressive, but that does not mean she is yet ready to do the unthinkable, go after
Jepkosgei said afterwards, "(The) World record is still far away, I'm not thinking about it." Nonetheless she was pleased to get Kenya the coveted gold medal, "It's the first gold medal for Kenya and the first world championship gold for me, and it's also my personal best, so I'm happy. I did not expect another personal best after the semifinal."
If the Kenyan women start showing the success on the track at the senior level that they show at the junior level, the rest of the world had better watch out.
Official Results - 800 Metres - W - Final 28 august 2007 - 21:20 Pos Lane Bib Athlete Country Mark 1 4 642 Janeth Jepkosgei KEN 1:56.04 (WL) 2 6 666 Hasna Benhassi MAR 1:56.99 3 9 398 Mayte Martínez ESP 1:57.62 (PB) 4 8 819 Olga Kotlyarova RUS 1:58.22 5 3 856 Brigita Langerholc SLO 1:58.52 6 5 258 Sviatlana Usovich BLR 1:58.92 7 2 815 Svetlana Klyuka RUS 2:00.90 7 689 Maria de Lurdes Mutola MOZ DNF Intermediate Bib Athlete
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