Nairobi — The Kenyan duo of Purity Chepkirui and Winnie Jemutai have stormed into Saturday’s final of the 1500m at the World Under-20 Championships after earning qualifying slots from the heats on Friday morning.
While Chepkirui stormed to victory in her heat, Jemutai just managed to hold her own for second spot in her heat.
Jemutai clocked 4:26.27 to finish second behind Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji who timed 4:26.26.
“I am pleased to have qualified because that was the only target today. I felt okay and my body feels in great shape. Now the focus is on the final to ensure we try and win something for Kenya,” Jemutai said after the race.
Jemutai and Welteji stuck on each others’ necks for most of the race with Welteji leading and resisting any attempt on anyone who dared punch up ahead of her.
The two were together at the home straight, with the Ethiopian striding ahead with some good pace while the Kenyan just held on for the second spot.
Meanwhile, Chepkirui was more commanding in her heat which she won in a faster time of 4:22.10 ahead of Ethiopian Hiwot Mehari who won in 4:22.37.
The leading pack most of the race was Chepkirui, Mehari, Eritrean Adiam Yhdego and Algerian Roukia Mouici. They were perched together at the bell but when the Kenyan pumped up the pace, the field broke.
Chepkirui powered home with a good last kick while Mehari tried all but in vain to catch up with the pace.
“The pace was good enough and I was comfortable. I am even more happier that both of us (Kenyans) have qualified for the final. Now we just need to plan well, and execute to get a medal,” said Chepkirui.