Ethiopia leads the medal tables with 18, seven of them gold, after the first two days (29-30) of action at the 13th African Junior Championships in Tlemcen, Algeria.
As expected, the core of Ethiopian strength laid in the middle and long distance events, but the east African powerhouse also picked up medals in the sprints, most notably over 400m on day two where Wogen Tucho Bayisa took the title in 47.65 over Tumo Nkape of Botswana, who clocked 47.83. Efrem Mekonen Wgeberel, also from Ethiopia, was third in 48.87.
Ethiopia also finished first and third in the men’s 1500m on Friday, won by Welde Tufa Gurme in 3:44.39 over Boaz Kiprugut who clocked 3:44.78. Weretaw Esthete Hagos, who led for half the race, held on for third in 3:45.56.
Friday’s women’s 800m also saw victory for Ethiopia courtesy of world U20 bronze medallist Tigist Ketema Tebo in 2:05.85. Josephine Chelangat of Kenya, who led at midway, was second in 2:06.48 with Khadidja Benkacem of Morocco third in 2:08.26.
Ethiopia’s medal haul began on day one with gold and silver in the men’s 3000m steeplechase where Takele Nigatu took the title in 8:31.36 ahead of Tesfaye Deriba Ketema, who clocked 8:33.67.
South Africa has also had a strong first two days, collecting ten medals, six of them gold.
On day one, Patrick Duvenage and Werner Visser, the 2015 world U18 champion, dominated the discus (1.75kg) competition reaching 59.46m and 58.70m respectively to finish one and two. Meanwhile, Jana Steinman led a South African 1-2 in the women’s shot put with a 13.15m best.
On day two, another South African, Kayle Blignaut, won the shot put by more than a metre and a half with a second round effort of 20.08m. Across the field, teammate Yvonne Robson took the high jump crown with third round success at 1.74m.
Other South African wins included Thembo Monareng’s in the 100m in 10.41, well clear of Zimbabwe’s Tinotenda Matiyenga, who clocked 10.50. Taylon Bieldt won the 100m hurdles in 13.82.
Highlights for Kenya came primarily in the middle and long distances.
Joyline Cherotich, the world U18 1500m bronze medallist, led a 1-2 for Kenya in the 3000m. The 19-year-old clocked 9:27.11 to nab the win from teammate Sandra Tuei Chebet, the world U18 runner-up in the 2000m steeplechase, who clocked 9:27.59. Ethiopia’s Meselu Berhe Kahsay was third in 9:28.10 in what was her first international appearance.
It was a near photo finish in the men’s 10,000m where Kenyan Nicholas Kipkorir prevailed over Gizachew Hailu Negasa by just 0.05 in 29:52.15.
On the infield, Soufiane Zakour of Morocco won the long jump at 7.36m, three centimetres ahead of teammate Mouhcine Khoua.
The closest race of the day? The men’s 10,000m race walk where it took a photo to separate Yohanis Algaw of Ethiopia and Tunisian Bahaeddine Gatri. Both were credited with a championship record of 44:43.47 with the Ethiopian given the nod.