Olympics: Kenyan-born teenager Ruth Jebet wins Bahrain's first ever gold medal

Ruth Jebet of Bahrain poses with her gold medal after winning the women's 3000m Steeplechase on Monday (Aug 15).
Ruth Jebet of Bahrain poses with her gold medal after winning the women's 3000m Steeplechase on Monday (Aug 15).PHOTO: EPA

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Teenager Ruth Jebet won Bahrain's first ever Olympic gold medal on Monday, blowing away the competition in the women's 3,000 metres steeplechase but narrowly missing out on the world record.

The 19-year-old stormed into the lead after a few laps and set a blistering pace to win in eight minutes 59.75 seconds, shy of the 8:58.81 world record set by Russia's Gulnara Galkina at the 2008 Beijing Games.

"I admit it was too easy for me but nobody told me about the record. I wanted the gold medal," Jebet said.

Galkina and Kenyan-born Jebet, who was the world junior champion, are the only two women to have run a sub-nine minute time.

Jebet is the second Kenyan-born runner to win a medal at Rio Games, following Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa's silver in the women's marathon on Sunday.

A host of athletes from Kenya's running heartlands have switched allegiance to compete for Middle Eastern countries over the past decade, in part due to the dearth of support and financial rewards for aspiring runners in the East African nation.

Kenya's Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi, who won the world title in Beijing last year, was almost 50 metres behind Jebet in second place.

"I am so happy," said Jepkemoi. "The last two laps were really hard. I just tried to stay strong and see if I could catch her."

American Emma Coburn won United States' first ever medal in the steeplechase as she grabbed bronze and a new national record.

"I feel very honoured," Coburn said.