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Kenyans win gold as injured Cheptegei walks to finish line

Cheptegei set a blistering pace, but fell out in the last lap

Kenya’s Kamworor successfully defended his senior men’s World Cross Country Championship title on Sunday, a first back-to-back senior men’s winner since 2006.

Joshua Cheptegei set a blistering pace after two laps to destroy the field, but in the final lap suddenly slowed down, and walked to the finish line in 30th position apparently injured. Cheptegei’s desperate efforts to finish the race eventually paid off as Uganda takes team bronze by just 3 points.

It would have been Uganda’s second gold medal of the day, and ever, in  the World Cross Country championships. Uganda came third on the medals table, with one gold and two bronze for the junior women and senior men.

Timothy Toroitich was the best placed Ugandan at 9th position in the senior men’s race.

Winner Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworo said, ” I was confident of retaining my title. 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.”

Stephen Kiprotich, part of team Uganda, came 17th. ” I feel sorry for Joshua (Cheptegei) because he was in great shape coming into the race. It is sad he didn’t win. He made a terrible mistake of breaking away so early. He should have waited at least until the last 2km.

POS BIB ATHLETE MARK DETAIL
1 Geoffrey Kipsang KAMWORORKEN 28:24
2 Leonard Kiplimo BARSOTONKEN 28:36
3 Abadi HADISETH 28:43
4 Jemal YIMERETH 28:47
5 Aron KIFLEERI 28:49
6 Muktar EDRISETH 28:57
7 Vincent Kipsang RONOKEN 29:00
8 Ibrahim JEILANETH 29:07
9 Timothy TOROITICHUGA 29:10
10 Bonsa DIDAETH 29:10
11 Samuel Kiprono CHELANGAUSA 29:13
12 Leonard Patrick KOMONKEN 29:16
13 Patrick TIERNANAUS 29:18
14 Onesphore NZIKWINKUNDABDI 29:21
15 Nicholas Mboroto KOSIMBEIKEN 29:23
16 Abdallah Kibet MANDEUGA 29:25
17 Stephen KIPROTICHUGA 29:28
18 Getaneh MOLLAETH 29:34
19 Afewerki BERHANEERI 29:35
20 Leonard Essau KORIRUSA 29:36
21 Shadrack KIPCHIRCHIRUSA 29:44
22 Gabriel Gerald GEAYTAN 29:48
23 Goitom KIFLEERI 29:56
24 Aweke AYALEWBRN 30:01
25 Jean-Marie Vianney NIYOMUKIZABDI 30:02
26 Stanley Kipkoech KEBENEIUSA 30:04
27 Birhanu BALEWBRN 30:04
28 Mogos SHUMAYERI 30:07
29 Leonard LANGATKEN 30:07
30 Joshua Kiprui CHEPTEGEIUGA 30:08

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RACE PREVIEW

Kiprotich trains at Kololo yesterday. PHOTO KCCAMEDIA

Stephen Kiprotich is confident. He knows better than many what it takes to win gold, and in team Uganda he has seen a lot in training to show that glory beckons.

“Going by what I saw in training, I believe our time for gold has finally come,” Kiprotich said, adding that “the course is perfect. It’s a bit demanding… but very good for me.”

Standing in Uganda’s way at another IAAF World Cross Country Championships are the mighty Kenyans and Ethiopians.

A Kenyan or Ethiopian has won the top men’s individual title in 24 of the last 30 years.

The two nations’ record in the team event is even more intimidating – won all from 1986 to 2015. The story is increasingly similar in the women and junior events, with the Kenyans and Ethiopians dominating the past decade.

The story, according to Kiprotich will change at 2pm today  when Uganda hosts the 42nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017.

Uganda has come close to taking the individual men’s gold once before through Moses Kipsiro in 2009 and will not get a better chance to take charge than this year at their own Kololo Independence Grounds on March 26.

“We have a selected a very strong team. We we want to challenge the dominant sides…we will give them a run for their money,” promised Uganda athletics chief Domenic Otucet.

The world cross country championship is considered one of the most difficult races to win, even more difficult than the Olympic Games, due to the tough course terrains.

Uganda becomes only the fourth African country to host the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) event in its 44th 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.

Kampala also marks the first time that senior women will race the distance of 10 kilometres.

There are many reasons why the Ugandans are confident. Three of them are Joshua Cheptegei, Stephen Kiprotich and Timothy Toroitich.

Kiprotich congratulates Cheptegei after the Uganda Cross Country championships. PHOTO KAMPALAIAAF MEDIA

Kiprotich

Stephen Kiprotich may be better known for his marathon exploits, but the distance running star has cross country in his blood.

“I am very happy for the world to come to my country. This race is very important to me.”

“In Uganda we have a very strong tradition in cross country running,” Kiprotich told the IAAF. “It has always been a key for any athlete preparing for track season. I have been competing in cross country from the start of my running career since I have been in school and it’s very easy to find good places to train for cross country in Uganda.”

Kiprotich has in the last five years shown the Kenyans and Ethiopians can be beaten at their own game. This he did in the marathon at the 2012 Olympic and 2013 world champions, all preceded by a sixth place showing at the 2011 World Cross championships in Spain.

At Uganda’s trials for this year’s event, he showed he can still match the change of pace from the marathon to the cross country, by finishing 5th.

Toroitich wins. IAAF PHOTO

Toroitich. IAAF PHOTOToroitich

All the stars, fresh from IAAF Cross Country Permit series November 2016 to February 2017, will travel to Kampala with a familiar name to look out for – Timothy Toroitich.

Before breaking off the circuit in November to prepare for Kampala 2017, Toroitich had swept to victory in the second leg race of the 2016-17 IAAF Cross Country Permit series.

Two weeks earlier, Toroitich finished second in the opening race of the winter’s IAAF Cross Country Permit series behind Bahrain’s Aweke Ayalew.

Toroitich finished fifth in the world cross country championships in 2013, and was eighth in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.

Cheptegei on the medals podium as national anthem is played at the Uganda trials

Joshua Cheptegei

Joshua Cheptegei destroyed a strong field to win the senior men’s gold at the National Cross Country Championships in Kampala in January to show he will be the man to watch on Sunday.

Defending champion Phillip Kipyeko set the early pace at the Kampala trials, but when Cheptegei took charge in the second of five laps at Kololo, the battle for everyone else remained for second place.

Cheptegei is the 2014 world U20 10,000m champion and 2015 African junior cross-country gold medalist.

The 20-year-old doubled at last year’s Olympic Games, finishing an impressive sixth in the 10,000m and eighth in the 5000m on his debut, and will clearly be favourite to dethrone the Kenyans and Ethiopians.

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