Barcelona – Shanice Craft, not ranked amongst this year’s World’s Top 10 Shot Put performers, stole the limelight on the opening day of the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona when stunning her rivals with her gold medal victory today.
The 19-year-old German surprisingly landed her title on a night where in the running finals Mercy Chebwogen triumphed over 3000m for Kenya while Yegrem Demelash of Ethiopia emerged triumphant in the men’s 10,000m.
Craft threw a magnificent 2012 World leading mark of 17.15m in the final. That effort in the opening round proved the winning put as she triumphed ahead of the highly fancied global Number 2 and 3 Yang Gao and Ka Bian who could only muster best efforts of 16.57m and 16.48m.
On the track Chebwogen safely kept the women’s 3000m title in Kenyan hands for a fifth successive Championships but herself and runner up Hiwot Gebrekidan of Ethiopia were made to fight every inch of the way for their medals by Emelia Gorecka.
On a night of 11 personal bests including those from the three medallists, Chebwogen produced a decisive sprint over the final 200m to win in a time of 9:08.88 while Gebrekidan who got past a determined Gorecka of Great Britain 25m from the line, recorded 9:09.27.
The men’s 10,000m as usual was an Ethiopia versus Kenya engagement and it seemed that either Philemon Cheboi and Geoffrey Kirui were poised to claim a third successive win for the latter with their early control of the race.
But Demelash after surviving some erratic changes of pace mainly from Kirui who led from the third to sixth kilometre and passed the halfway point in 14:12.83 took total control in the final three laps.
The 18-year-old who came to the 1992 Olympic Stadium with a PB of 28:39.97 sped over the last kilometre in under three minutes to score his nation’s first success since Ibrahim Jeylan’s win six years previously.
Cheboi who gave up chasing him won the race for the silver medal also setting a PB of 28:23.98 with Kirui who did much of the hard work in the early stages placing third in 28:30.47.
Meanwhile Jamaican 400m runner Javon Francis ran a personal best 46.31 seconds to win his first round heat while female compatriots sprinters Monique Spencer and Shawnette Lewin who both ran 11.78 seconds, as well as discus thrower Fedric Dacres all made progress in today’s second session at the Montjuic Olympic Stadium.
Dacres threw 58.90m on his final throw to finish third in his group and was sixth overall going into Thursday afternoon’s final.††