Tirop re­turns

World champ places sec­ond in IAAF cross coun­try per­mit meet opener in Spain

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports Local - BY WIL­LIAM NJUGUNA AND IAAF/

World cross coun­try cham­pion Agnes Je­bet clocked 24:52 to place sec­ond in the open­ing race of this win­ter’s IAAF cross coun­try per­mit meet­ing on Sun­day in Ata­puerca, Spain. The race was won by Ethiopia’s Sen­bere Te­feri in 24:48 with Africa 10,000 me­tres cham­pion Alice Aprot com­ing home third in 24:58.

Tirop made most of the early pace along­side Aprot while the Ethiopi­ans ran com­fort­ably at their shoul­ders. Ire­land’s Fion­nu­ala McCor­mack and Bri­tain’s Kate Hulls were able to live with the Africans’ pace through the sec­ond kilo­me­tre, which was cov­ered in a mod­er­ate 6:50.

But Hulls and then McCor­mack grad­u­ally lost ground and by mid­way the con­test, it be­came the ex­pected Kenya vs Ethiopia fight with Tirop and Aprot dic­tat­ing the pace and Te­feri and Be­lay­nesh Oljira in close at­ten­dance.

Just be­fore the ath­letes em­barked on the fi­nal 1.95km lap, de­fend­ing cham­pion Oljira be­gan to fade as Te­feri moved to the front for the first time to heat up the pace. Tirop and Aprot fol­lowed her for some 300 me­tres, but with one kilo­me­tre re­main­ing, Te­feri broke away with un­ex­pected ease—tak­ing into ac­count that she was leav­ing well be­hind Tirop, the world cross-coun­try cham­pion, and a 29:53.51 10,000m run­ner Aprot.

McCor­mack was the fastest Euro­pean in fifth, some 38 sec­onds in ar­rears, show­ing con­vinc­ing form only our weeks prior to the Euro­pean cross coun­try cham­pi­onships.

“I knew my form was fine but I was not sure to beat three top ath­letes like Tirop, Aprot and Oljira,” said the 21-year-old Te­feri after se­cur­ing the fifth suc­ces­sive Ethiopian vic­tory in the women’s race in Spain.

In the men’s cat­e­gory, Com­mon­wealth Games 3,000 me­ter steeple­chase sil­ver medal­list, Jairus Birech was the high­est ranked Kenyan in fifth place after clock­ing 25:24

Ethiopia’s Aweke Ayalew took to hon­ours by post­ing 25:05 with Uganda’s Ti­mothy Toroitich reg­is­ter­ing sim­i­lar time after a photo fin­ish.

Former World cross coun­try cham­pion Imane Merga came home third in 25:12 with Ethiopia’s Muk­tar Edris fourth in 25:22.

Euro­pean 10,000m bronze medal­list An­to­nio Aba­dia was the first Euro­pean fin­isher, cross­ing the line in sev­enth place, just one sec­ond clear of fel­low Spa­niard Ilias Fifa, the Euro­pean 5000m cham­pion.

“It’s won­der­ful to be able to beat one of the world’s best cross-coun­try spe­cial­ists like Imane Merga who is an idol here,” said Ayalew, who fin­ished 10th at last year’s IAAF World Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships.

/ COUR­TESY

Agnes Je­bet Tirop dis­plays her gold medal she won in the women’s 8km se­nior race at the IAAF World Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships in Guiyang, China, on March 28,2015.

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