EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Mary Cain sprinted the last 120 meters and pulled away from the field to win the 3,000 meters at the IAAF world junior championships on Thursday night at Hayward Field.
Cain is the first U.S. woman to win a junior world title at a distance longer than 800 meters. Boxed in at the start of the final lap, she wrestled her way to the front to win in a personal-best 8 minutes, 58.48 seconds.
Lilian Kasait Rengeruk of Kenya finished second.
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”I felt really good for the last lap,” Cain said. ”There was a lot of jostling. I know I’m supposed to keep running, but I kept saying, `I’m sorry!”’
The 18-year-old from New York won the event at the U.S. junior championships in 9:15.81 this month at Hayward Field, putting her in the field for the worlds.
Carrying an American flag on her victory lap, Cain made a point to high-five many lining the track and even posed for a few selfies.
Cain made the final in the 1,500 at the senior world outdoor championships in Moscow last year, at 17 becoming the youngest woman to run the event.
Cain, who just wrapped up her senior year in high school, eschewed a college track career to join the Nike Oregon Project, training under decorated U.S. marathoner Alberto Salazar.
”I had a really good kick. I could hear Alberto in my head screaming that I have to move now!” she said.
In other final events Thursday, Wilhem Belocian of France set world junior record in the 110 hurdles, winning in 12.99 to best his own record of 13.15 set this month.
Afterward, Belocian wrapped himself in the French flag before collapsing on the infield in joy. Jamaican Tyler Mason was second in 13.06.
”Being the first junior to run under 13 seconds, this is incredible, I still can’t believe it,” he said. ”The final was great, I’m a competitive person, so I like to have strong rivals, to test myself.”
Kenyan Jonathan Sawe won the 1,500 in 3:40.02; Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago took the 400 by a wide margin in 45.13; and Margaret Nyairera Wambui of Kenya won the women’s 800 in a personal-best 2:00.49.
Earlier in the 200 heats, Thomas Somers of Britain advanced to the final in 20.37, a British junior record.
”It felt great! My time shows how my training has been going. Winning the semifinal and now being a medal contender gives me a lot of confidence coming into the final,” he said.
It is the first time the junior world meet has been held in the United States. Nearly 1,600 athletes from 170 countries are taking part in the event that runs through Sunday. Most finals are set for this weekend.
Sanctioned by the sport’s international governing body, the junior worlds include athletes born between 1995 and 1998.