By Mitch Phillips
EUGENE, Ore. (Reuters) -Norah Jeruto delivered a devastating display of front running to win the world 3,000 metres steeplechase title in a massive championship record on Wednesday, earning gold for Kazakhstan having switched allegiance from Kenya earlier this year.
Jeruto clocked eight minutes, 53.02 seconds, the third-fastest of all time and more than five seconds better than Beatrice Chepkoech’s 2019 winning mark.
Werkuha Getachew set an Ethiopian record of 8:54.61 for silver, ahead of compatriot Mekides Abebe, who took bronze with a personal best of 8:56.08.
Bahrain’s Winfred Mutile Yavi, fastest in the world this year and another former Kenyan, finished fourth for the second successive World Championships.
Five of the top seven set national records or personal bests as carbon spike technology and a super-fast track continue to tear down existing marks.
“I enjoyed my race today,” Jeruto 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.”
Jeruto and Mutile Yavi have both been in impressive form this season and showed their intention from the off as they put the hammer down on the opening lap to immediately stretch the field.
The Ethiopian pair, Uganda’s Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai and home hope and 2017 champion Emma Coburn stuck with them as they rattled through the first kilometre inside three minutes.
They just about stayed together until three laps to go, when Coburn dropped off, then Abebe looked to be out of it too, only to dig really deep to latch back on for the final lap.
Running bunched together it made the barriers more of a challenge and as the Ethiopian duo battled for space behind Jeruto, it was Yavi who paid the price, almost coming to a stop in the water jump to end her medal hopes.
Jeruto, who missed the Tokyo Olympics as she sat out her change of allegiance period, tore down the home straight, finishing more than half a second inside her personal best, set on the same Hayward Field track almost a year ago.
Ethiopia had previously managed only one bronze medal since the event was introduced in 2005 and Getachew was delighted to play her part in improving that tally.
“This is so amazing, we will surely celebrate. I wanted gold but the winner was very strong,” she said.
“The steeplechase is a Kenyan event. Ethiopian men started to challenge, we are joining them now and it’s becoming our event,” she said, referring to her compatriot Lamecha Girma, who took silver in the men’s race on Monday.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Christian Schmollinger)