EUGENE,OREGON (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS) – Norah Jeruto delivered a devastating display of front running to win the world 3,000m steeplechase title in World Athletics Championship record time on Wednesday (July 20), earning gold for Kazakhstan after switching allegiance from Kenya earlier this year.
Jeruto clocked 8min 53.02sec – the third-fastest of all time – and more than four seconds better than Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech’s winning mark at the 2019 worlds in Doha. However, Chepkoech’s 8:44.32 remains the fastest recorded in this event.
Ethiopia’s Werkuha Getachew settled for silver in 8:54.61, ahead of compatriot Mekides Abebe, who took bronze with a personal best of 8:56.08.
Five of the top seven set national records or personal bests as carbon spike technology and super-fast tracks continue to tear down existing marks.
Jeruto was forced to miss last year’s Tokyo Olympics as she had to sit out her change of allegiance period, so winning the world title in dominant fashion – she finished more than half a second inside her personal best, set on the same Hayward Field track almost a year ago – felt extra sweet.
“I enjoyed my race today,” she said.
“At the starting line, I was afraid of my friends from Ethiopia and it was tough. I decided to go to the front so I could control the race.”
In the women’s discus final, China’s Feng Bin’s 69.12m opener, a personal best, was enough to secure her victory as Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic took silver and American Valarie Allman, the Tokyo Games champion, finished with bronze.
“I am so excited and I have to say all opponents did a very good job today,” said Feng, who finished 17th at the Olympics last year.
“I did not expect this result coming to Eugene, I just wanted to show my best.”
There was disappointment for both the United States and South Africa respectively as 100m world champion Fred Kerley pulled out ahead of the 4x100m relay due to injury, while two-time Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya failed to qualify for the women’s 5,000m finals after clocking a time of 15:46.12 in the heats.
Semenya initially did not qualify for Eugene, but was allowed entry after several competitors dropped out.
She cannot compete in her preferred distance of 800m because of a World Athletics ruling saying women with high natural testosterone levels must take medication to reduce them to compete in middle-distance races.
Meanwhile, Ukraine might have sent its smallest delegation of athletes to the worlds, but acting federation president Yevhen Pronin said the 22-strong team were just glad to be competing and offer a glimmer of hope for their besieged compatriots, with Russia’s invasion now into its fifth month.
Pronin added: “Our country, our team are still in a difficult situation. Other teams can stay at home, train at home, see their parents, their children.”