Teenage talent Tirop triumphs for Kenya in women's senior race

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Mar 28, 2015
  • Agnes Tirop leads the women's 8km senior women's field at the IAAF World cross country.(Photo by Getty Images for IAAF)

  • Agnes Tirop crosses the finish line to win the women's 8km senior race at the IAAF World cross country.(Photo by Getty Images for IAAF)

In the battle of East Africa, and with an impressive start-to-finish victory, Agnes Tirop brought home Kenya’s 300th IAAF World Cross Country Championships medal and become the youngest senior women's winner since Zola Budd in 1985 when taking the honours in Guiyang on Saturday.

Still only 19, the 2013 junior women’s silver medallist and two-time world junior 5000m bronze medallist on the track went out strongly, not being intimidated in the slightest by the likes of two-time world cross champion Emily Chebet and a strong set of Ethiopian runners as she triumphed by a five-second margin in 26:01.

“I am very happy to have won Kenya’s 300th medal,” Tirop said after her landmark victory. “I was trying to push the pace from the start. I had no fear, I was just trying to run my own race.”

Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi, just a few months older than her Kenyan rival, was the only one to challenge Tirop as the remaining athletes slowly dropped away one after another, leaving the two 19-year-olds as the last two contenders for the gold medal.

Teferi eventually had to accept defeat on the final 200 metres of the race crossing the line in 26:06, five seconds clear of her compatriot Netsanet Gudeta in third.

“The Ethiopian (Teferi) tried to overtake me and tried to push me to get away, but I was strong and managed to hold on,” added Tirop.

During the first lap of the 8010m race, the field was still very much huddled together but it very quickly turned into a two horse race – on the former horse racing circuit on the outskirts of the southern Chinese city, with regards to the team standings as the leading pack of 12 solely consisted of six Kenyan and six Ethiopian runners.

In the end, it was Ethiopia who came out on top, with just two points separating the two nations, 17 points to the Kenyans’ 19 to end their five-year winning streak in this category, while East African neighbours Uganda took third place for their first ever senior women’s medals, either in the individual race or in the team contest.

Ethiopia’s Alemitu Haroye came home fourth to also get the better of defending champion Emily Chebet. Chebet ended up in sixth place with 26:18, struggling in the final few hundred metres and overtaken by compatriot Stacy Ndiwa as the line loomed up.