Kenyans rule world cross-coun­try cham­pi­onships

New Straits Times - - Sport -

KAMPALA: Kenya dom­i­nated the World Cross-Coun­try Cham­pi­onships on Sun­day, Ge­of­frey Kam­woror de­fend­ing his men’s ti­tle, Irene Chep­tai lead­ing a his­toric clean­sweep in the women’s race and As­bel Kiprop help­ing to se­cure a third gold in the mixed re­lay.

Kam­woror had to rely on a late break to win the men’s race in 28min 24sec, mak­ing him the first back-to-back win­ner since 2006.

Uganda’s Joshua Chep­tegei had led for most of the race, to the de­light of the home crowd, with dozens of Ugan­dans run­ning along­side him.

But there was drama as he col­lapsed in the fi­nal lap, even­tu­ally re­cov­er­ing to hob­ble over the line in 30th place.

Kam­woror made no mis­take with his per­fect­ly­timed run, sprint­ing in ahead of Kenyan cross coun­try cham­pion Leonard Bar­so­ton, with Ethiopia’s Abadi Hadis round­ing out the podium.

“I was con­fi­dent of re­tain­ing my ti­tle,” said Kam­woror.

“When the Ugan­dan broke away, I kept my cool and ran my race. I knew he would get tired. His pace was so high and it would have been amaz­ing if he had main­tained to the end.”

Kam­woror added: “From the start of the race I was re­ally fo­cused. I knew there were a lot of Kenyans who trav­elled overnight and I didn’t want to dis­ap­point them.”

Kenya proved to be even more dom­i­nant in the women’s race, Irene lead­ing home five of her team­mates for a first-ever podium clean­sweep for the east African run­ning pow­er­house.

“The course was very tough,” Irenei said. “We didn’t think it was pos­si­ble to get one through six but we co­op­er­ate as Kenyans.”

Irene, who was sev­enth at the world cham­pi­onships in Guiyang two years ago, clocked 31:57s around the 10km course. Sil­ver went to Alice Na­wowuna and bronze to Lil­ian Rengeruk.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Agnes Tirop placed fifth and Olympic 1,500m cham­pion Faith Kipye­gon was sixth in the bi­en­nial event, the first ma­jor sport­ing show­piece held in Uganda, only the fourth African coun­try to host the worlds in its 44-year his­tory.

Morocco hosted twice in 1975 and 1998, South Africa in 1996 and Kenya in 2007. The com­pe­ti­tion was changed from an an­nual to a bi­en­nial event in 2011.

There was joy for the home na­tion as Ja­cob Ki­plimo won the Un­der-20 men’s race, Lete­sen­bet Gidey of Ethiopia claim­ing gold in the ju­nior women’s race.

Kenya, pow­ered by three-time world 1,500m cham­pion and 2008 Olympic gold medal­list As­bel Kiprop, also took gold in the in­au­gu­ral mixed re­lay.

Beatrice Chep­koech held on to see off Gen­zebe Dibaba’s spir­ited last leg for Ethiopia to claim gold by eight sec­onds, a Turk­ish team made up of four for­mer Kenyans tak­ing bronze.

More than 550 ath­letes from 59 coun­tries took part at the worlds, but a refugee team from South Su­dan had to drop out at the last minute due to what an IAAF of­fi­cial termed “ad­min­is­tra­tive hur­dles.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.