Nancy Koech Chelagat produced a scintillating show as she claimed silver on the final day of the Paralympics Games in Rio, Brazil.
It was a hot battle between the Kenyan, who finished second and China’s Jin Zheng, in the women’s 1,500m T11 final at the Olympics Stadium on Saturday night.
Chelagat and Zheng both ran inside the two-year world and Paralympics record of 4:44.06 in the two-horse race that left fans on the edge of their seats. Chelagat clocked 4:42.12, well inside a previous World record, but honours will go to China’s Zheng.
The Chinese athlete had set the record in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea but chalked off a huge chunk of time this time round to cut the tape in 4:38.9 for gold.
Maritza Arango of Colombia, who clocked 4:45.33 with her guide Jonathan Gonzalez, finished third, while Renata Bazone of Brazil set her season best of 5:01.75 in her fourth-place finish. Zheng, who was guided by Yubo Jin, edged Chelagat to the gold medal thanks to an amazing finishing kick and a well-orchestrated coordination with her partner.
Both Chelagat and Zheng were neck-and-neck in the race as they occasionally exchanged leads in the laps. But that changed once they hit the homestretch; where wit and strategy was key.
Despite settling for silver, Chelagat was happy that her main focus in Rio was achieved. She thanked her guide Geoffrey Kiplagat for giving her the necessary tip which saw her finish within the new record.
Chelagat eyes medal after cruising to 1500m T11 finals “We had a good run and everything went on as planned. We achieved our goal in the race, which was to set a fast time. I must say that Zheng was the better of the two of us,” Chelagat said.
Chelagat said her next move will be to lower the time she set in Rio. To her, that should be her immediate assignment and she believes she can accomplish it. The silver wiped out Chelegat’s tears at the games after she failed to bag a spot in the women’s 200m T11 finals last week. The silver now brings Kenya’s medal tally to six. Kenya won three gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
Samuel Mushai won gold in 5000m T11 and 1500m T11, while Henry Kirwa won in 5000m T13.