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Golden display: Kenyans produce superlative shows at Africa cross country championships

By - JONATHAN KOMEN | March 17th 2014


From left  Janet Kisa, Faith Chepngetich and Alice Aprot display their medals after a 1-2-3 finish in the senior women’s 8km race at the third Africa cross-country championships at Kololo, Kampala, yesterday. [PHOTO: DENNIS OKEYO./STANDARD]

Kenya produced superlative performance at the third Africa cross-country championships held yesterday at Kololo ceremonial grounds here in Kampala.

The team’s brilliance saw the national anthem played eight times after they scooped eight gold medals of the available 12 medals in an exciting show.

Two-time world cross-country junior champion Faith Chepng’etich and world cross-country silver medalist Leonard Barsoton thrilled the sizeable crowds as they anchored Kenya to Africa’s top spots in the signature races.

Chepng’etich, who won the Africa cross-country junior title in Kampala, comfortably won the race in 25:33.02 ahead of Janet Kisa (25:41.30) and Alice Aprot (25:46.48).

Chelimo Faith (26:02.60) and Ethiopia’s Bekele Alemu Tadelech (26:14.03) followed.

Chepngetich said: “I broke away from the surging Ethiopians. We have achieved our target of winning gold, silver and bronze here. I simply used my junior race winning style here. I will strive to make a team for Commonwealth Games.”

Kenyan women won the overall title beating Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Leonard Barsoton, a Japan based runner, won 12km in 34:26.12 in another clean sweep for Kenya. Cornelius Kipruto (34:56.45) and Philemon Rono (35:01.88) settled for silver and bronze medals.

Kenyan men topped the leader board beating Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania.

Barsoton said: “I could take the heat after training in Japan’s hot grounds. I will leave for Japan end month and come back to battle for place in World Junior team to Oregon,” said the athlete from Nandi.

Second placed Kipruto, a debutant in national team, said: “The race was tough at the start but we could make it. We devised a new winning tactic.”

In the juniors category, Agnes Jebet Tirop and Moses Mukono chalked up brilliant wins in junior races at the CAA Africa cross-country championships at Kololo ceremonial grounds.

Eritrea and Ethiopia denied Kenya clean sweeps in junior races even as Kenya reclaimed the 8km men overall title. 

Jebet, the world cross-country junior silver medalist, pulled a fast one against stiff Ethiopian challenge, winning six-kilometre crown that ensured Kenya’s national anthem became the first one to hit the airwaves at Kololo ceremonial grounds here.

The Form Two Student at Kosirai Secondary School in Uasin Gishu Country proved she was no push-over as she blew away Ethiopian challenge to win in 18:50.5 in an afternoon of high drama.

Ethiopia’s Heroye Banata Alemitu settled for silver in 19:05.1 as Nancy Nziza (19:16.71), world junior 3,000m champion Roseline Chepng’etich (19:35.71) and World Youth 3,000m champion Lilian Kasait (19:50.74) followed.

Betray her surname

Jebet, who won world junior 5,000m bronze medal in Barcelona in 2012, said she couldn’t betray her surname which means ‘one born at broad day light’ though her game plan to have Kenya sweep the podium went up in smoke.

“I wanted Kenya to win the top-three positions here at day light. I tried to hold back but I feared the Ethiopians could catch up with me,” said Jebet.

Kenya managed to hold a firm grip on the junior women overall title even as Ethiopia and hosts Uganda settled for silver and bronze medals respectively.

Kasait, a Primary School girl in Pokot Central, wound up fifth and aided Kenya in overall title defence bid.

Africa junior 5,000m champion Moses Mukono showed no respective for his opponents as he strolled to victory in 22:36.80. Andrew Lorot (22:36.80) and Eritrea’s (22:50.19) bagged silver and bronze as John Kiprono Langat (22:58.70), Hillary Kipkemoi (23: 01.97) and Emmanuel Bett (23:11.12) followed.

Mukono, who failed to impress at the 2013 world cross-country championships in Poland, led his school mate at Nairobi’s Riruta Central Andrew Lorot to top-two spots here.

The eloquent speaking Mukono said: “I won this race so easily. I slowed the pace but when I realized the opposition were not so strong, I fired away. I now prepare for the IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships in Oregon. I will also try if I can manage the team to Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.”

But Lorot, who competed in his maiden race in the national colours, said he feared Ugandans would ruin their party here.

The athlete from Lelan area in Pokot South said: “I have problem with starting. I always pick up a bit late that’s how I clawed back to second position.

Mukono, however, broke away from the four-kilometre mark leaving Lorot and Kiprono to do the chasing.

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