In Summary
  • Kapkuto Secondary School dropout, Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe from Kapsabet, took up the cue following through with another gold in the men's 1,500 metres.
  • No journalist at Hayward Park would believe it when told that prior to this competition, Wambui had run just one competitive 800 metres race ever - at the Kenyan Junior trials!
  • Metric miler Sawe and Ng’etich had planned a perfect 1,500m race in which they were supposed to run away with the gold and silver unscathed.

IN EUGENE, OREGON

The phrase "meteoric rise" may be a long-drawn-out cliche, but it, perhaps, most suitably describes Margaret Nyairera Wambui's fledgling athletics career.

Just when gold medals were proving elusive, desperation setting in and cross-border rivals Uganda taunting the Kenyan camp at the 15th IAAF World Junior Championships here, the 18-year-old from Endarasha proved to be the Joker in the pack, effectively opening the floodgates for her country's gold medal rush with victory in the 800 metres final.

Kapkuto Secondary School dropout, Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe from Kapsabet, took up the cue following through with another gold in the men's 1,500 metres.

But in stark contrast, while Wambui is featuring in her first competition abroad, Sawe, a Youth Commonwealth Games gold medallist, is a veteran despite being still a junior, having struck bronze in his maiden race abroad at the 2011 World Youth Championships in Lille, France.

The double victory Thursday catapulted Kenya to the top of the medal standings after three days of competition at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus with eight medals, two gold, two silver and four bronze.

SUPRISE WINNER

No journalist at Hayward Park would believe it when told that prior to this competition, Wambui had run just one competitive 800 metres race ever - at the Kenyan Junior trials!

Hers is a tears-eye story of determination, self-confidence and a humble upbringing that resulted in Thursday night's victory with a personal best 2:0.49 seconds that opened Kenya's account.

Raised by a single mother, Anne Wambui, the Form Three student at Nyeri's Tetu High School, interestingly, started off as a 400-metre runner while in Form Two and also played volleyball up to national level for her school team.

"But I also used to compete in the heptathlon, which has 800 metres competition in it, and when I ran 2:05 at one 800 metres race as part of the heptathlon competition, my coach thought I should move up to the 800 metres and focus more on this race.

"I know my mother will be proud of me now because always encourages me to work hard."

Wambui ran a tactical race and was not distracted when Kenya national junior champion Maximila Emali pulled out with hamstring problem on the final lap.

"I was very hurt when Uganda won a gold medal in the men's 10,000 metres (through Joshua Cheptegei) and we had none, so I said I will give it my all to bring glory to my country.

"My strategy was to closely observe Cuba's Sahily Diago, who was the strongest in the field, and I'm glad I did it!"

Diago settled for silver in 2:02.11 while Australia's Georgia Wassall (2:04.12) claimed the bronze.

"I'm so happy and now I will cheer my teammates so that we win more gold medals," said Wambui who intimated that she will take up professional athletics after graduating from high school next year.

SUCCESSFUL DAY

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