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Big shots outclassed in Eldoret meet

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | January 23rd 2022 | 3 min read
Samuel Chebolei of North Rift celebrates after winning 10km senior men during National Cross Country held at Lobo village grounds in Eldoret yesterday. January 22. 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Surprises, adrenaline-packed racing and intrigues summed up the National Cross Country championships that took place in Eldoret yesterday.

Athletes cruised through the Lobo Village course, considered one of the toughest in National Cross Country championships, as the race lived up to its billing.

A number of top guns who were eyeing top national cross country honors went home disappointed as upstarts and athletes graduating to senior ranks turned tables.

Athletes who clinched titles in the showpiece expressed hope of writing another history at the Memorial Agnes Tirop World Cross Country Tour scheduled for February 12, 2022 at the same venue.

Former junior cross country national champion Samuel Chebolei, who was representing the North Rift region, and who trains in Iten stunned big shots such as Nicholas Kimeli who finished fourth in 5000m at the Tokyo Olympics last year as well as former World Under-20 5000m champion Edward Pingua Zakayo.

Chebolei pulled away from a leading pack of four athletes in the third lap before establishing a comfortable gap and sprinting to the finish.

He cut the tape in 29:28.9 while Kennedy Kiprop from the Western region finished second in 29:35.2 as Vincent Kiprotich timed 30:02.6 to close the podium finish.

“The mud pit was very challenging but I used tactics gained during my past experiences in cross country,” Chebolei who won the 2019 junior national junior cross country championships in Eldoret in 2019 said after the win.

Joyce Chepkemoi of KDF celebrates after crossing the winning line in 10km senior women during National Cross Country held at Lobo Village grounds in Eldoret yesterday. She won at 34:00.0. January 22. 2022. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

He continued: “It was my senior cross country debut. I have trained and competed with Nicholas Kimeli and I was expecting he would do very well because I understand him.”

He said he was eyeing glory at the Memorial Agnes Tirop Cross World Cross Country Tour and the World Championships in July this year.

Joyce Chepkemoi of Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) stunned a strong field to win the senior women’s 10km race.

Chepkemoi described the course that had two soil heaps, apart from the mud pits as one of the most challenging.

Chepkemoi was seventh in the 2021 National Cross Country championships and yesterday, she outclassed big shots including World Marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich and former World Under-20 3000m steeplechase winner Celliphine Chespol of Kenya Prisons.

She won the race in 34:00.0, defeating Margaret Chelimo of Kenya Police who finished second. Chelimo clocked 34:01.8.

“I had trained hard and strictly followed my coach’s programme. I will be back in Eldoret and after that, my coach and manager will reveal the races that I will take part in this year,” Chepkemoi said.

Charles Rotich from West Pokot (North Rift) won the boys’ Under-18 6km race.

Reigning World Under-20 5000m champion Benson Kiplagat, who was representing South Rift cruised to a convincing finish in the men’s Under-20 8km race. 

“I didn’t expect to win the race. I feel good because I came into this race to gauge my strength as we kick off the new season. My major focus this year is the World Championships,” Kiplagat said.

Faith Cherotich from the South Rift won the women’s 6km Under-20.

 

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