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Kimeli and Jebitok prevail in Spain

Nicholas Kimeli celebrates crossing the finish line to win Heat 1 on men's 5000m, yesterday. [Reuters]

Olympics and World Championships finalist Kenya's Nicholas Kimeli and Edinah Jebitok lead a stellar field at the 78th Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza – a World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold meeting – in the Spanish town of Elgoibar on Sunday 9th. 

The 23-year-old Kimeli, who narrowly missed the Olympic 5000m bronze medal in Tokyo, is determined to win the medal.

Kimeli, who was running on Spanish soil for the first time, overcame the mud and high calibre fields to win the race. 

"At the Tokyo Olympics I narrowly missed a medal but I’m determined to win a medal at either the World Championships in Eugene or the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham," Kimeli told World Sports.

 Jebitok prevailed over her compatriot world Under-20 cross country champion Beatrice Chebet extending her advantage to secure a clear win with 15 seconds separating the two at the finish line. 

The 18-year-old Chesang kept Teferi at bay to complete a quality top three, 15 seconds behind Chebet but 11 seconds clear of the Ethiopian. Edinah Jebitok, fresh from a fine runner-up finish in Madrid last week timed at 30:44, could complete a Kenyan clean sweep of medals at the Sunday event.

Shortly afterwards, 1500m Olympian Jebitok stepped up the pace to build a two-second advantage ahead of Chebet and Chesang after a 7:13 2.1km loop. Surprisingly, Kenya’s 3000m steeplechase record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech was never a factor and traveled way back off the leaders.

Chepkoech finished a distant eighth, some 1:36 behind the victor, while Great Britain’s Kate Holt was the first European athlete home in ninth, just ahead of her compatriot Alexandra Millard 

World 3000m steeplechase champion and record holder Beatrice Chepkoech had been tooted to stage a stellar field was left with nothing but to contend with the eighth position. Chepkoech, who has not been in action since finishing seventh in 3000m steeplechase at the Tokyo Games, got stiff competition from three Ethiopians, two Kenyans as well as two Ugandans which denied her a place on the podium. 

The seventh-place finisher at the 2019 World Cross Country Championships has not competed since the Olympic final.  

Leading results

Women (7.6km)

 1 Edinah Jebitok (KEN) 26:03

 2 Beatrice Chebet (KEN) 26:18

 3 Prisca Chesang (UGA) 26:33

 4 Senbere Teferi (ETH) 26:44

 5 Fantaye Belayneh (ETH) 27:03

 6 Tsige Haileslase (ETH) 27:10

 7 Esther Chebet (UGA) 27:19

 8 Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN) 27:39

 9 Kate Holt (GBR) 28:16

 10 Alexandra Millard (GBR) 28:28

Men (10.8km)

 1 Nicholas Kimeli (KEN) 33:47

 2 Addisu Yihune (ETH) 33:53

 3 Rodgers Kibet (UGA) 34:05

 4 Adel Mechaal (ESP) 34:49

 5 Getnet Wale (ETH) 34:49

 6 Nassim Hassaous (ESP) 35:04

 7 Amos Serem (KEN) 35:19

 8 Iliass Aouani (ITA) 35:35

 9 Hugo Milner (GBR) 35:42

 10 Jose Espana (ESP) 35:49