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By John Kwoba
NAIROBI, July 17 (Xinhua) — Ethiopia may not have had an edge over Kenya in the overall medal tally, but the visitors won the battle of long distance races as the World U18 Championships ended in Nairobi on Sunday.
However, Kenya has promised to return to the drawing board, immerse itself in training hoping to emerge with a perfect plan to beat their rivals at the senior athletes World Championships in London in August.
With Kenya hosting the championships, Ethiopia had to device a better method to stay afloat of competition and it returned dividends.
In long and middle distance races, Kenya is always expectant, so when their arch rivals from Ethiopia wade into their home stadium and defeat them at the disciplines they love best, it left many fans hurt.
“It was a battle of the mind. We know we have good athletes and they showed as much. Now we have to build on that because, Kenya will certainly not leave this war end here in Nairobi,” said Lemlem Hailu, winner in 1,500m race.
Indeed Ethiopians are built tough, just like their Kenyan rivals. The visitors took gold in the boys’ 3,000m, boys’ 800m, girls’ 1,500m and girls’ 3,000m.
Lemlem Hailu and Sindu Girma were the heroines of the girls’ 1500m final, raining on the Kenyan parade by taking a 1-2 and relegating the home nation’s leading hope, Edina Jebitok, to third.
In the sprint races, World U18 record-holder Sokwakhana Zazini won the men’s 400m hurdles final by nearly two seconds in 49.27 to Kenya’s Moitalel Naadokila (52.06) while Zeney van der Walt made it a South African double by winning the women’s 400m hurdles in 58.23.
Elsewhere on the track, South Africa’s Retshidistiswe Mlenga (21.10) and Germany’s Talea Prepens (23.64) were the fastest qualifiers for the 200m finals, China’s Yao Zhang won the 10,000m walk in 41:12.01 while Ecuador’s Glenda Morejon won the 5,000m walk in 22:32.30 from Turkey’s Meryem Bekmez (22:32.79).
On the field, Cuba’s Amanda Almendariz won the hammer (3kg) with 71.12m from teammate Yaritza Martinez 69.75m, China’s Tan Qiujao won the triple jump with 13.64m from Bulgaria’s Aleksandra Nacheva (13.54m), teammate Niu Chunge won the pole vault with 4.20m and Chile’s Claudio Romero won the discus (1.5kg) with 64.33m.
South Africa’s Breyton Poole also cleared 2.24m to win the high jump by 10 centimetres.