Japan-based Karoki and Tanui beat rivals, Cherono wins 10,000m title

By OMULO OKOTH

It was a contest that evoked memories of the legendary rivalry between Moses Tanui and Richard Chelimo two decades ago. It also could have been compared to the 10,000m race during the era of Paul Tergat, Paul Koech and Sammy Kipketer a decade ago.

That was the excitement and unpredictability of the 10,000m race between Bidan Karoki and Paul Kipngetich Tanui at the World Championships Trials at Nyayo National Stadium, on Saturday.

Unlike the women’s version ran earlier in the day under biting cold, the men’s 25-lap race started on a searing pace, but it had to wait until the 11th lap for Karoki to shake the pecking order.

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It was a see-saw lead between Micah Kogo, former African champion Wilson Kiprop, John Thuo, Edward Waweru and Emmanuel Kipsang.

Jacob Korir Chesare became a brief pretender to the throne but was overthrown by 2005 world bronze medallist Martin Irungu Mathathi, who paid dearly for his daredevilry as he dropped out soon after leading the 18th lap.

Tanui and Emmanuel Kipkemei Bett dazzled the fair crowd in the 20th lap, but Karoki again caught up with them.

By the gong of the bell, Karoki was steadily in control of the race, leading his fellow Japan-based Tanui, who works for Kyudenko Corporation, to first and second positions in 27:31.61 and 27:32.76 respectively. Kenneth Kiprop Kipkemoi was third in 27:41.28.

“I have never beaten him before. That makes me happy. I am now focusing on the World Championships,” said the 23-year-old athlete who works for Dena Company in Japan.

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His Japanese coach, Tako Hiroshi, was a proud mentor, taking pictures as his protégé fielded questions from a battery of reporters near the finish point.

Paul Kipkoech (RIP), who never had a serious competition during his reign (1987), Moses Tanui (1991) and Charles Kamathi (2001) are the only Kenyans to have won world titles over this race.

The women’s race was initially a very boring affair, as the 10 runners remained together jostling in a pack for half the race. Isabella Ochichi and Sally Kipyego did not start despite being listed on the start list.

 Former world champion Linet Masai broke the monotony in the 14th lap, dashing to the front, as 2011 Berlin Marathon winner Florence Kiplagat, and newcomer, Betsy Saina, who is a student at Iowa University in the United States, followed.

Caroline Cheptanui took the lead in the 18th lap as Kiplagat suddenly dropped out. Sally Kaptich Chepyego, double African champion Gladys Cherono and 2011 Boston Marathon champion, Caroline Kilel attacked.

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With three laps to go, Masai was spiked and her rhythm devastatingly affected. She never recovered and Cherono won in 33:43.03, followed by Emilly Chebet (33:43.03 and Kaptich Chepyego (33:45.81).

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Moses Tanui Richard Chelimo Paul Tergat