By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom, with additions by LetsRun.com
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
EUGENE, OREGON (26-Jul) — Ruth Jebet made history here on day five of the IAAF World Junior Championships, becoming the first woman from Bahrain ever to medal in the meet’s fifteen editions. With just over three laps remaining in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, the Kenyan-born Jebet injected a dramatic surge that no one in the leading pack –including defending champion Daisy Jepkemei of Kenya– could respond to. By winning in 9:36.74, Jebet became the first athlete not carrying an Kenyan passport to ever win gold in the discipline.
“[I’m] so happy because my country is happy, happy to get it,” said Jebet, the 2013 Asian champion, a flag draped around her shoulders.
Just as she had in the preliminary rounds, Peru’s Zulema Arenas ran out front for a majority of the opening kilometer, quickly establishing a nine-woman lead pack. While Arenas led, Jebet, Jepkemei, and fellow Kenyan Rosefline Chepngetich sat content as they passed one kilometer in 3:12.16.
The race would dawdle in the middle laps, no one daring to test the waters by breaking clear. That would change with little more than three circuits of historic Hayward Field remaining, as Jebet changed gears into what appeared to be an all out sprint.
In a matter of seconds Jebet had 20 meters on the field, not looking back once.
“I had a particular time in mind. The pace felt really comfortable, and with three laps to go I looked at the clock, and the time was poor, so I decided to go faster,” Jebet told IAAF interviewers.
Realizing that a race-altering move had been made, Chepngetich did her best to respond, but could not chip away at the gap, which grew to roughly 30 meters at the bell. Jepkemei, another ten meters behind Chepngetich, was then out of contention.
At the bell, Jebet seemed to be slowing slightly, her form deteriorating a bit. However, the world junior leader in the discipline was able to maintain her comfortable cushion over the final three barriers and water jump, crossing the line in 9:36.74.
“I was really prepared for the race,” said Jebet. “I traveled all the way from Bahrain to here because I was really prepared for the race.”
By winning, Jebet earns Bahrain’s first gold medal of the meet, and increases their total haul between men and women to three. Interestingly, no woman from Bahrain had ever finished higher than fourth in any discipline at the previous fourteen IAAF World Junior Championships.
Chepngetich claimed silver in 9:40.28, a personal best, with Jepkemei holding on to bronze in 9:47.65. Frustrated and distraught, neither Kenyan would speak to the media or IAAF interviewers post race. The pair simply waved ‘no’ to the media, declining everyone including award-winning Kenyan athletics journalist Elias Makori. Jepkemei could be seen wiping tears from her eyes.
Rounding out the top five was a pair of Ethiopians, Buzuayehu Mohamed (9:48.66) and Weynshet Ansa (9:59.31).
Taking ninth in 10:21.59 was University of New Hampshire student-athlete Elinor Purrier, the only American in the final.
“It’s definitely mentally challenging knowing I gave all I had two days before,” she said, referring to the 10:08.33 personal best she set in the preliminary round. “I’m still happy with how I ran and I’m really excited [to be here].”
|8||307||Rosemary Mumo Katua||BRN||10:18.01|
|11||682||Amy Eloise Neale||GBR||10:25.14|
Results appear on the right. Race highlights and a post-race interview with Jebet appear below.
PHOTO: Ruth Jebet of Bahrain (r) leads the field of the women’s steeplechase at the IAAF World Junior Championships (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly).
Ruth Jebet talks after winning gold: