August 25, 2015 / 1:42 PM / 4 years ago

Kenyan Bett takes surprise 400m hurdles gold

BEIJING, (Reuters) - Kenyan policeman Nicholas Bett charged down the home straight to win the world championship 400 metres hurdles final on Tuesday.

Nicholas Bett of Kenya competes as he goes on to win the men's 400 metres hurdles final during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Drawn in the outside lane nine, Bett had to run the race blind, unable to see his rivals until the final stages.

He was placed fifth coming off the last bend, but he overtook Russia’s Denis Kudryavtsev over the final flight of barriers and stormed home in 47.79 seconds.

Kudryavtsev held on for the silver medal in a Russian record 48.05 with Jeffery Gibson of the Bahamas taking bronze in48.17.

The American challenge from former champion Kerron Clementand pre-race favourite Michael Tinsley disintegrated under the pressure.

Clement, the 2007 and 2009 world champion, finished fourth in 48.18 while Tinsley jogged home last after an error-strewn lap.

Bett, became the first African to win the 400m hurdles world title since Zambian Samuel Matete in Tokyo in 1991, set a Kenyan record and ran half a second faster than the lifetime best he established at altitude in Nairobi this month.

“In the semi-final I made a mistake with the steps between hurdles, so in this final I was able to correct it,” the 23-year=old Bett told reporters. “It is wonderful to be the world champion. I achieved a PB and NR this year so I say thanks to God.”

Kudryavtsev, also 23, is coached by the former 800m world champion Yuri Borzakovski.

“I started easy then I tried to do my job. I didn’t want to make any technical mistakes, my technique is one of my best qualities. Getting into the final with the best time pushed me.”

Reporting by Steven Downes, editing by Ed Osmond

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