By John Kwoba
NAIROBI, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Host Kenya may have failed to come out on top as the curtains were drawn on the final IAAF World U18 Championships here today, but heroic performances and a festive atmosphere left a lasting impression on those who attended.
South Africa emerged as the overall winner with 11 medals - five gold, three silver and three bronze, coming out ahead of China, who took home 11 medals (five gold, two silver and four bronze) with Cuba third with eight medals (five gold, two silver and one bronze).
Kenya had to settle for fourth position with four gold, seven silver and four bronze, edging out perennial rivals Ethiopia to fifth with 12 medals four gold, three silver and five bronze. A total of 27 countries and regions won a medal from the 131 teams that took part in the five-day championship.
There were myths that were debunked during the championships as well. One of those is that an athlete must be tall in order to be a championship high jumper. South Africa's Breyton Poole, all of 1.72m, defied the laws of physics to take home the victory in the boys' high jump with a whopping championship record of 2.24m.
Ever since he took up the sport at the age of 10, people have been telling him that he is not tall enough to succeed, but he managed to prove the naysayers wrong in Nairobi.
"They thought I wouldn't be able to adapt to it because I was so short," he said. "I proved them wrong."
The 60,000 fans who thronged the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi on Sunday may have had a ringing in their ears for several hours afterwards, thanks mainly to the exploits of Kenya's Jackline Wambui, who powered away to win the girls' 800m and lead a 1-2 with teammate Lydia Jeruto Lagat.
Wambui's winning time was 2:01.46, but in the mayhem that gripped the stadium afterwards, no one was looking at the clock.
The Kenyan pair set off on a lap of honor, with thousands of adoring fans chanting, cheering, waving and worshipping their new heroines.
Another thing that made the vent memorable was the enthusiasm of the fans. Decked out in their national colours, Kenyan fans filed through the gates of the stadium each day beaming with wide smiles, extending their arms in welcome to the world's best athletes in this age catagory. Their support was palpable anytime their nation's athletes took to the track or field.
Whether it was a high jumper clearing a bar in warmup, a thrower unleashing a personal best in qualifying or a middle distance athlete storming to victory, they roared in support all week, creating an incredible atmosphere for live sports.
Now, the focus turns to the London World Championships in August.