Tanui impresses at Seville Cross country

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Jan 20, 2022
  • Paul Tanui.(Photo:SNA File)

World cross country silver medalist Paul Tanui and Ethiopia’s Hiwot Ayalew captured respective victories at the 32nd Cross Internacional de Italica – the third Spanish leg of this season’s IAAF Cross Country Permit series – on Sunday on a pleasant but windy day.

However, both 23-year-olds succeeded in different ways. World cross-country silver medallist Ayalew was tucked behind Kenya’s world 5000m silver medallist Mercy Cherono throughout the race before unleashing her final attack 800m before the finish.

By contrast, world 10,000m bronze medallist Kenya's Tanui secured a memorable win as he led from the gun and was never headed to finally destroy the stiff challenge of Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich’s over the final kilometre.

Impressive front-running by Tanui

In contrast to the women’s race, the men’s 10.8km contest kicked off at a frantic pace thanks to the early effort of Paul Tanui.

The 2011 world cross-country silver medallist was making his cross-country seasonal debut, but barely five minutes into the race it became clear that the Kenyan was in superb form.

Before the second kilometre, only his countrymen Emmanuel Bett and Abel Mutai – plus the pre-race favourite Toroitich – could live with his pace. Shortly after the 3km mark, Olympic steeplechase bronze medallist Mutai began to falter and so the podium seemed – barring disaster – to be decided in favour of Tanui, Bett and Toroitich.

Remarkably, it was Tanui who dictated the rhythm for the whole race with the in-form Ugandan always in second and Bett closing the leading pack.

The decisive movement came with 650m left when Tanui found another gear which at last proved strong enough to get rid of the Ugandan. But Toroitich never gave up and threatened Tanui until the closing stages, their final clockings being 31:32 and 31:34 respectively, while a tired Bett completed the classy podium 22 seconds adrift.

“My manager Federico Rosa had warned me that both Toroitich and Bett were in fine form after their 1-2 in Elgoibar last week so I decided to run quite fast from the beginning, trying to leave them behind,” said a delighted Tanui. “It was not easy but I finally managed it.”

Cherono sets the pace but Ayalew prevails again

The women’s 8km contest opened conservatively with Spain’s Sonia Bejarano leading the early stages at a moderate pace.

Last year’s winner Mercy Cherono stepped up the pace with the clock reading seven minutes only to be followed by the Ethiopian trio of Hiwot Ayalew, Alemitu Heroye and Trias Gebre plus Great Britain’s Lily Partridge, fresh from a creditable seventh at the Edinburgh Great Cross Country last week. Further back, Spain’s Diana Martin led the chasing group.