Experienced Kenyans reign Worlds: Kamworor defends title, Cheptai finally tastes gold

By ronnie evans
Mar 26, 2017
  • Geoffrey Kamworor wins the men's 12km Senior race in Kampala.(Photo by Roger Sedres/IAAF)

  • Irene Cheptai led a historic Kenyan sweep of the top six positions in the women's 10km race.(Photo by Roger Sedres/IAAF)

  • The men's 12km field at the World Cross Country championships.(Photo by Shutterspeed)

KAMPALA, Geoffrey Kamworor well timed kick ensured he defended his senior men’s 12km world cross country title as Irene Cheptai led an epic Kenyan sweep of the top six positions bagging gold that had eluded her in three previous attempts.

It was a field day for Kenya in the women’s over the 10km course race Cheptai as their tactic for a perfect team score and the individual gold came to fruition.

The six Kenyans led from the from the first lap and never looked back till the end with only the Ethiopians managing to close the gap on the charging rivals.

Cheptai,who finished seventh in the 2015 edition earned her second world cross country title after the silver in the junior race in 2008 outsprint the African champion Alice Aprot in the final 300 metres to win the gold in 31:57.

Aprot won silver in 32:01. Lilian Kasait rounded off the sweep for medals 32:11.

Olympic 3000 metre steeplechase silver medallist Hyving Kiyeng improved on her sixth place finish in the national trials to finish fourth on 32:32.

Agnes Tirop clocked 32:35 to finish fifth.

“I am happy to have won the title after several attempts.I have been here before and to beat such a talented field is truly something special for me. It was also a good team win.

“We decided to stick together and lead the pace so that we would have more chances of a medal and it paid off,” Cheptai explained of the team tactics.

“We just planned to run at the front and push, and if we did that we hoped to finish one, two, three,”Aprot added.

Faith Chepngetich had a disappointing campaign as she finished in sixth in 32:49 but stated that she was glad to be part of the historic moment with her team mates.

Injured Cheptegei chase flops 

In the men’s senior 10km race, Geoffrey Kamworor won the first back to back title since Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele’s triumph in 2005-2006 with a 28:24 time.

Kamworor was made to work by Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei who led for four laps and up to the final lap when a muscle strain and fatigue ploughed him from causing a major upset.

Kipkurui faded to 30th position much to the disappointment of the huge following who had gallantly cheered him on as he broke away midway through and looked poised for victory.

Kamworor trailed the young Ugandan and had it all wrapped up in the last kilometer with Leonard Barsoton, who pipped Kamworor to the national title in February clinching silver in 28:36. Ethiopia’s Abadi Hadis took the bronze medal in 28:45.

It was sweet victory for the Kenyan who retained his title exactly a year after he won the world half marathon gold.

“I was confident of retaining the title because that is what I targeted. When the Ugandan broke away, I remained calm and ran my race till the end,” Kamworor said.

“It was a good race and I am happy with my overall performance. I stayed with the pace of the leaders and never lost concentration,” Barsoton added.

Leading Results Women (All Kenya) 1. Irene Cheptai-31:57, 2. Alice Aprot-32:01, 3. Lilian Kasait-32.11, 4. Hyvin Kiyeng-32:32, 5. Agnes Tirop-37:35, 6. Faith Chepngetich-32:49

Men 1.Geoffrey Kamworor-28:24 (Kenya), 2. Leonard Barsoton-28:36 (Kenya), 3. Abadi Hadis (28:45)