Kenya women’s team lost the medley race to the United States of America, who set a new world record, as the World Relays started on Saturday (Sunday night in Kenya) at the Thomas Robison Stadium, Bahamas.
A poor start by Selah Jepleting saw Kenyans settle for a silver medal in 10:43.35 as the USA, powered by the 2012 London Olympics 400 champion Sanya Richards-Ross, strutted to gold in a new world record time of 10:36.50.
However, the silver exploits somehow soothed the hearts of Kenyans after their men’s 4x800m and 4x400m teams had staged a disastrous show.
The Kenya men’s 4x800m team was disqualified while the 4x400m side crashed out in the first round, in what was a repeat of the inaugural 2014 championships at the same arena.
However, the time set by Kenyan women Jepleting (1,200m), Joy Zakari (400m), Sylvia Chesebe (800m) and Virginia Nyambura (1,600m) was enough to set an African record in the medley.
USA’s Treniere Moser (1,200m), Richards-Ross (400m), Ajee Wilson (800m) and Shannon Rowbury (1,600m) took more than six seconds off the previous mark of 10:42.57 that was set earlier this year by a different US team.
The first leg looked more tactical in the beginning with everyone reluctant to lead as the first lap was covered in just 69 seconds. But the pace picked up by the end of the 1,200m section where Jepleting surrendered the lead to France and USA who respectively set times of 3:18.11 and 3:18.38.
OUTSIDE WORLD RECORD PACE
The slow first lap meant the teams were a few seconds outside world record pace, but a 50.12 clocking from Richards-Ross on the 400m leg put them back on course.
Wilson then ran a solo 2:00.08 for the 800m leg and Rowbury then increased their lead, which was already substantial, to bring the baton home in 10:36.50, covering the final four laps in 4:27.92.
An error cost Kenya silver in 4x800m when the 2012 London Olympic Games 800m bronze medallist, Timothy Kitum, who ran the team’s third leg, collected the baton from Nicholas Kipkoech ahead of the changeover zone. This enabled USA to claim victory while Poland and Australia benefited from Kenya’s miseries to upgrade to silver and bronze medal respectively.
Talented World Junior and Youth 800m champion Alfred Kipketer led home Duane Solomon but the crucial move came with just under 200 metres to go on the second leg .