Ethiopia stunned their Kenyan hosts with a superb middle-distance performance yesterday, with Selemon Barega producing a smart tactical race to win the boys’ 3000m final at a packed Kasarani Stadium, in Nairobi.
As expected, the race evolved into a four-way battle between the Kenyan and Ethiopian contingents after Ugandan Oscar Chelimo was dropped midway through the contest. Starting an early drive for home with three laps remaining, Ethiopia’s Milkesa Mengesha tried to drop his opponents and opened a small gap. The chasing trio were able to close him down, however, and world U20 champion Barega drew clear down the finishing straight to win in 7:47.16.
“My strategy was to kick in the last 200m, which went according to plan,” said Barega, who earlier this month clocked 12:55.58 for 5000m. “I intend to compete in more races around the world at any given opportunity to better my time.”
The capacity Kenyan crowd were ultimately rewarded for the immense support they showed their athletes as they bolted around the track, with Edward Zakayo grabbing the silver medal in 7:49.17 and Stanley Waithaka taking bronze in 7:50.64. Mengesha faded in the latter stages to settle for fourth place in 7:55.29, and though he missed out on a medal he managed to clock a personal best, as did all three boys who reached the podium.