An engrossing, exhilarating men’s 1500m final won by Kenya’s Elijah Manangoi proved the highlight of day three at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 on Thursday (12).
Fending off the challenges of the formidable Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Samuel Tefera and Justus Soget, Manangoi backed up his world U18 title with a wonderfully resilient win, hitting the line in 3:41.71 to ensure that the U18, U20 and senior world 1500m titles now all belong to the same household.
Ingebrigtsen of Norway took silver in 3:41.89, bronze went to Soget of Kenya in 3:42.14, with Britain’s Jake Heyward fourth in 3:43.76.
It says much about the race’s quality that Tefera, the world indoor champion from Ethiopia, could only finish fifth in 3:43.91, although this was no ordinary world U20 final, but likely the best field ever assembled at this level.
The race started at a crawl, Kenya’s Justus Soget taking a hesitant lead and towing the field through 400m in 63.11. On the second lap, gold medal favourite Tefera gradually moved to the front, passing 800m in 2:05.74.
By then, the gears were turning throughout the pack, a ripple effect of panic and chaos breaking out as everyone tried to shuffle into position for the bell lap.
Tefera began to pour it on at the front, a 56.49-second lap taking them to the bell in 2:48.10. Up the back straight, Tefera went all-in, churning out a ferocious tempo and leading into the final turn, but Soget and Ingebrigtsen were coming, ready to strike.
Soget was the first to go by, then Ingebrigtsen came over the top of him, wrestling to the front with mere metres to run. But finishing fastest of all was the forgotten man: Manangoi.
“I’m very grateful,” said Manangoi. “I wasn’t confident that I could win but I did my best and now I know I have the talent.”
Ingebrigtsen took a defeated look to his right near the finish, trying but unable to muster anything else in his bid for gold, but he was content with an excellent silver.
“I obviously wanted to go for the gold but I’m happy,” he said. “I had to run in lane two a lot, which is not a good thing but all in all, this was a great experience. I’m going to bed early now as I’m running the 5,000m final on Saturday.”