Yeshnil Karan continued to rewrite Fiji’s athletics history books at the Sol2023 Pacific Games by winning the men’s 3000 metre steeplechase on Friday at Honiara’s National Stadium
.The win brought his Sol2023 gold medal haul to three, following victories in the 10,000m and 5,000m earlier in the week.
Leading from the start of the race until the end, Karan showed confident dominance on the track. Aquila Turalom from Papua New Guinea trailed him most of the race and at one point towards the end of the sixth lap he closed the gap to around ten metres.
But, with one lap to go, Karan accelerated under the intense sun and streaked to a memorable victory in his first ever 3000m steeplechase competitive race, finishing with an impressive time of 9 minutes and 18.48 seconds, which is just 11 seconds short of the Pacific Games record of 9:07.11, set by the great Alain Lazare from Tahiti back in 1987.
Settling for the silver medal with an impressive time of 9:26.10 was Turalom, while another young Fijian runner, Evueli Toia, claimed bronze in 9:47.14.
Karan, who declined to comment until after his final race in the half marathon on Saturday morning, has been training in Australia prior to attending the Pacific Games and will be one of the favourites in future long-distance competitions in the region.
Speaking after collecting silver and setting a new personal best in the process, a smiling Turalom said: “I am so happy that I have won silver for my country running against an impressive opponent in the process”.
Bronze medallist Toia told the Pacific Games News Service: “Yeshnil deserved the win. He worked hard in training. I will go back to Fiji and work on my recovery for my injured knee and aim to compete in the Oceania Championships that will take place in Fiji next year”.
Athletics at Sol2023 will conclude on Saturday morning with the men’s and women’s half marathons.
By Donaldson Saepioh and Huckle Negoa, Pacific Games News Service