Winfred Yavi of Bahrain stalked world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech for all but one lap of the women’s 3,000 metres steeplechase, surging past the Kenyan over the final 400 metres to capture gold at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Yavi crossed the finish line in a world-leading eight minutes 54.29 seconds - fourth fastest ever - for the victory, while the 32-year-old Chepkoech crossed in 8:58.98 for silver.
“Oh my God, I just found out this is the fourth fastest in history, I am really excited about that. It was a fast race but I did not realise it was that fast,” said Yavi, who was born in Kenya but switched allegiance to the oil-rich Middle Eastern state in 2016.
“I knew I would have the power on the last lap. It was perfect. I have never felt like this before. After finishing fourth at the past two world championships, the gold medal gives me additional motivation to train hard.”
Faith Cherotich, a 19-year-old from Kenya, captured the bronze in a personal best 9:00.69 to become the first teenager to climb the world medal podium in the event.
Chepkoech’s world record is 8:44.32, but it was set back in 2018. She finished well back in seventh at the Tokyo Olympics and withdrew ahead of last year’s worlds in Eugene with an injury.
“This silver feels like gold to me. The last few years have been tough due to my injury,” said Chepkoech, who has battled both a hamstring injury and stress fracture in her ankle.
“Coming back is something special for me. After being out for the last two years it has been so hard. Since the 2020 Olympics I have been struggling and I thought I might never come back. But tonight proves I am still strong.”
Cherotich, whose bronze comes in her world senior debut, said it was difficult just to make the Kenyan team for Budapest.
“It is a huge responsibility to represent your country,” said last year’s world under-20 champion. “I am very surprised to know that I am the first teenager who got a medal. Now I am looking forward to being highly prepared for the Olympics. Why not? Everything is possible for people who believe in themselves.”
In the last individual race of the championships, fans were treated to a thrilling event featuring nine of the world’s 10 fastest women this year.
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