Kangogo and Aprot triumph: Stars eye slots to Commonwealth Games

By Jonathan Komen: Sunday, January 14th 2018 at 00:09 GMT +3 | Athletics
PRISONS CROSS COUNTRY Alice Aprot address media after winning 10KM Women race during the Kenya Prisons Cross country championships at Uhuru gardens on Jan 13, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard

Ndiwa re-affirms his comeback, focus now shifts to next month’s national trials.

World Cross Country silver medalist Alice Aprot and Cornelius Kangogo yesterday won the Kenya Prisons cross country championships at Uhuru Gardens.

The two produced superlative showing to wow the huge crowds –among them Kenya Prisons Deputy Commissioner General Benjamin Njoga and Athletics Kenya national officials –at the grassy cross country circuit.

Aprot blew away a star-studded field to wear the women’s 10 kilometre crown.

Aprot, who won the Africa Cross Country championships title in Cameroon in 2016, formed the leading pack of 11 runners which had world-beating runners that included Celliphine Chespol, the third fastest steeplechaser in history.

Aprot produced a sudden burst of speed that reduced the field to shreds on the penultimate circuit, breezing the tape in 33 minutes and 30.9 seconds.

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Chespol (34:09.2), a world junior champion, came second as 2016 Paris Marathon winner Visiline Jepkesho (34:38.0), Caroline Biwott (34:42.0), Nancy Nziza (34:49.3) and Catherine Syokau (35:49.6) followed in that order.

Nancy Kimaiyo (35:58.6), Pauline Wangui (36:10.8) Meryline Ondiek (36:20.7), Tabitha Wambui (36:34.2) and Lilian Odira (36:47.5) sealed the top 12 spots.

Aprot dictated the high pace in the first lap before Nziza fell back as Chespol, Jepkesho and Biwott followed.

She then exchanged the lead with Chespol and Jepkesho and then charged back with a super-finish to go past the flagging Jepkesho, who drifted back to third place.

Aprot, fourth-placed in 10,000m at the 2016 Rio Olympics, said she is eyeing a slot in Kenya’s team to Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, on April 4-17.

“The race was not easy. I knew well that Chespol has a strong sprint and decided to break away early.

“I opted to keep the pace high for I feared Jepkesho, who is a strong marathoner with enough endurance,” Aprot said.

Chespol, who made her maiden appearance in the senior cross country race, has also set her focus on the Club games.

“I want to maintain or improve my time in 3,000m steeplechase. But I first need to qualify for the Commonwealth Games,” she said.

Kangogo, who represented Coast region, went neck and neck with Mangata Ndiwa, the 2006 World Cross Country junior champion in the men race.

The 24-year-old Kangogo sped away finishing the first lap in a swift 5:38.

He controlled the race even as his sole challenger Ndiwa, who has three stabs at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, breathed down his neck.

Kangogo then stepped up the pace in the early stages of the final lap that spread out all his rivals, opening a 30-metre gap at the finish line in 29:41.0.

Ndiwa (29:46.7), Africa 10,000m silver medalist Wilfred Kimitei (30:04.2), Emmanuel Ngatuny (30:16.7) and Fred Musyoki (30:22.8), seven-placed at the Africa cross country in 2012, followed.

World 1,500m silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot (30:21.5), Oscar Kipkarat (30:31.4) and former Africa Cross Country champion John Mwangangi (30:45.6) completed the top 10 places.