The winner wasn’t decided until the final 20 meters.
It looked like a Kenyan cakewalk with pre-race favorites Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui and Ziporah Wanjiru Kingori of Kenya heading into the girl’s 3000m final at the IAAF World Youth Championships last night.
That wasn’t the case.
Gotytom Gebreslase, 16 years old of Ethiopia, upset the field by winning the final in 8:56.36, running the fastest youth time in the world this year. She edged out Wanjiru Kingori by just .46 seconds.
At the beginning of the race, it was a Japanese pair of runners, Katsuki Suga and Tomoka Kimura, who set a blazing first kilometer (2:58.83). However, the race then slowed dramatically and turned into a tactical affair.
The lead pack was comprised of Kingori, Kipkurui, Gebreslase, and Russia’s Alena Kudashkina. With two laps to go, Kudashkina dropped the hammer and surged ahead. She opened up a 25-meter gap on the chase pack and it looked like she would be the first non-African to win the title in championship history. However, this wasn’t to be. In the final bend, Kingori and Gebrelase took off past her. The Ethiopian and Kenyan were neck-and-neck until the very end when Gebrelase put in a final surge at the tape to win the race.