Willy Tarbei and Kipyegon Bett secured Kenya’s first 1-2 in the boys’ 800m event for 10 years at the 9th IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali 2015 on Saturday.
It was the front-running Tarbei, who was rewarded for his proactive approach to the race, who took the honours in 1:45.58, crossing the line 0.28 clear of his team-mate as Kenya grabbed this title for the fifth time in the past six editions.
Behind, Brazilian Luis Fernando Pires was the best of the remainder to collect a jubilant bronze in a personal best of 1:48.61, and after crossing the line he gave an ostentatious show of delight by dramatically thumping his heart.
After just 0.04 separated Tarbei and Bett at the Kenyan Youth Championships last month, many had expected the battle between the two prodigious talents to be a close-run thing, and so it proved.
Predictably the pair rushed to the front, Tarbei passing 200m in 24.80 shadowed by Bett with South Africa’s Theuns Ehlers desperately trying to hang on to their coat tails.
At the bell, it was Tarbei in 52.17 from Bett with Ethiopia’s Omer Amano now the man holding third place as Ehlers was relegated to fourth.
The gap between the Kenyans and the rest of the world widened down the back stretch as the race was obviously – if that wasn’t already apparent – going to lead to a Kenyan 1-2.
Tarbei held a two-metre lead coming into the home straight and Bett moved wide to launch his attack.
The long-time leader always remained at least half a stride clear down the home stretch to hold off his team-mate’s late charge to snatch the gold in the second-fastest ever winning time in the history of the event at the IAAF World Youth Championships.
The pair had already begun their celebrations when Pires, who had paced his race impressively, grabbed bronze.
Amano, who many would have predicted as the likely bronze medallist, had to be content with fourth place in 1:49.11 while the courageous Ehlers ran a personal best of 1:49.32 for fifth.