Women dazzle with podium sweep as Benson Kiplangat bags bronze at World Cross Country Championships

ATHLETICS Women dazzle with podium sweep as Benson Kiplangat bags bronze at World Cross Country Championships

Abigael Wafula 15:38 - 30.03.2024

Team Kenya did not disappoint in the women's senior race as they took the top five slots with Beatrice Chebet successfully defending her title.

The senior women’s race assembled one of the greatest fields in the history of cross country but it was defending champion Beatrice Chebet who took the top prize at the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

Defending champion Beatrice Chebet, World 10km record holder Agnes Ngetich, Sirikwa Classic Cross-Country champion Emmaculate Anyango, American runner Weini Kelati, Lilian Kasait and Margaret Chelimo had all confirmed participation in the event.

The race started with the Kenyan charge in the lead, Ngetich leading from the front as Chebet and the rest of the athletes followed the world record holder. Uganda’s Joy Cheptoyek was also in the mix, running behind the Kenyan charge and moving really well.

Lilian Kasait was also looking very comfortable in the steady race and since she possesses a great CV, underestimating her would be a mistake.

She maintained her concentration and focused on the leaders. For the first time in history, Ethiopians were really struggling to match the Kenyans and Ugandans tempo.

After the first lap, Anyango had taken charge and was not leaving anything to chance, looking very comfortable with the hope of bagging her first global title. Sisay Gola was the only Ethiopian running with the leading pack at this point.

Daisy Jepkemei of Kazakhstan was also in the mix with the Kenyans and as they approached the third lap, she was running from the front with Ngetich. Defending champion Chebet was lying low, running in fifth place, also looking very comfortable and ready to pounce.

As the athletes were running the third leg of the relay, Ngetich was still running in the lead with Chebet now running in fourth place. Anyango was going head-to-head with Ngetich in the lead.

It was a total dominance for the Kenyans and as they approached the fifth leg, it was evident that they would take the podium places.

Running the final lap, Ngetich was still in the lead with Anyango and Chebet running in second and third place and it was now a Kenyan affair. Chebet was looking relaxed and was cruising across the barriers and running in second place.

Anyango and Ngetich dropped a few meters to the finish line and Chebet was now running alongside Kasait and Kipkemboi.

Chebet then unleashed her finishing kick, clocking an impressive time of 31:05 to defend her title. Kasait and Kipkemboi finished second and third in 31:08 and 31:09 to cross the finish line.

Meanwhile, the mixed relay team comprising world under-20 1500m record holder Reynold Cheruiyot emerged victorious and retained their title.

Cheruiyot was in the first leg and he swiftly handed over the baton to Virginia Nyambura who was also impressive in her run as she handed over the baton to Kyumbe Munguti.

Former World Under-20 1500m champion Purity Chepkirui anchored the team to victory in the event, clocking 22:15 to cross the finish line. Team Ethiopia finished second in 22:43 the event as Great Britain completed the podium, clocking 23:00 to cross the finish line.

The men’s race was also a tight affair with the Ugandan duo of Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo going for the title and the Kenyan charge of World Half Marathon champion Sabastian Sawe, former World Under-20 Cross Country champion Ishmael Kipkurui and Nicholas Kimeli among others.

The race started with the double threat, Kiplimo and Cheptegei taking the leadership roles and controlling the race while taking turns. The defending champion Kiplimo, was looking confident but Cheptegei was also on his neck hoping to reclaim his title.

Passing the second lap, Kiplimo was still in the lead, doing most of the work with his compatriot, the world 10,000m champion still tormenting him. He was trying to push himself harder and he was looking poised and ready for his title defense.

He was not seen looking back at any point since he knew he was destined for the prize but the tough opposition did not allow him to reign for long. As they were approaching the end of the fourth lap, Benson Kiplangat took the honours and he was running in the lead.

As they were approaching the finish line, Kiplimo took charge once more but Kiplangat could not let him rest as he went toe to toe with him. Berihu Aregawi was trying to catch up and was looking very relaxed climbing through the ranks while running.

Kiplimo, the world half marathon record holder was smiling as he is used to that in the latter stages. With the finish line in sight, it was evident that Kiplimo was going for the retention of his title that he won last year in Bathurst and was climbing the final bridge.

Aregawi was trying to catch up with him and was trying hard to close the gap between himself and the Ugandan but he could only afford a silver medal. Kiplimo cut the tape in 28:09 as the Ethiopian finished second in 28:12. Kiplangat finished third, clocking an impressive time of 28:14 to cross the finish line.