Barsoton beats strong field to win Kenya cross title
Nairobi, Kenya | AFP |
Japan-based Kenyan Leonard Barsoton ended a four-year wait with a come-from-behind victory at the world cross country championships trials at the Nairobi Uhuru gardens ground on Saturday.
Barsoton was trailing third in the final lap of the men’s senior 10 kilometre behind reigning world cross champion Geoffrey Kamworor and world silver medallist Bedan Karoki.
But the 22-year-old gathered enough strength on the last 500 metres to outpace his two illustrious compatriots and sprint away to win the title in 28:56.3.
“I didn’t expect that I could win,” said Barsoton, who was fifth at the 2015 World cross country championships in Guiyany, China.
“I have been patient enough to wait for this chance since 2013.”
Karoki finished a distant second in 29:02.3 but said he would not compete at the world championships in Kampala in March as he was preparing to make his marathon debut in London in April.
Third-placed Kamworor will however be defending his title in Kampala next month having recovered from a leg injury he sustained at the Rio Olympics.
Irene Cheptai also ran a tactical race to win the women’s eight kilometre senior race and relegating Olympic 3000m champion Faith Kipyegon into third place.
Reigning world champion Agnes Tirop was fifth.
“It is my first time to win the Kenyan cross country title. I am also targeting a podium place in Kampala,” said Cheptai, who was placed seventh in Guiyang.
Barsoton and Cheptai will head a 24-member Kenyan team at the 2017 World Cross-country championships in Kampala, Uganda on March 26, after winning Saturday’s national trials.
Kenya are seeking to wrestle the overall world title from arch-rivals Ethiopia.
The Kenya team also includes the men’s and women’s 10k defending champions Geoffrey Kamworor and Agnes Tirop and Olympians Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, Alice Aprot and Hyvin Kiyeng.
The Kenya team for 2017 World Cross-country championships:
Senior men: Leonard Barsoton, Bedan Karoki, Geoffrey Kamworor, Vincent Rono, Leonard Komon, Leonard Lagat
Senior women: Irene Cheptai, Lilian Kasait, Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, Alice Aprot, Agnes Tirop, Hyvin Kiyeng
U-20 men: Richard Yator, Meshack Kyuguti, Wesley Ladema, Edwin Kiplagat, Amos Kirui, Ronald Kirui
U20 women: Sandrafelis Chebet, Cellephine Chepteek, Sheila Chelangat, Emmaculate Chepkirui, Joyline Cherotich, Esther Muthoni