Kiplimo and Chebet Defend World Cross Titles in Belgrade

Posted by: Watch Athletics

Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo and Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet  successfully their World Athletics Cross Country Championships titles in Belgrade on Saturday, March 30.

Men’s senior race: 

Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo successfully defended his men’s senior title in 28:09 one year after his triumph in the previous edition held in Bathurst. Kiplimo has followed in the footsteps of Kenenisa Bekele, Geoffrey Kamworor and Paul Tergat as back-to-back champions of the men’s senior title. 

Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi, who finished fourth behind Kiplimo in the 10000m at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021, crossed the finish-line in 28:12 repeating his silver medal from last year’s edition in Barthurst. Kenya’s Benson Kiplangat, who finished fourth at the Kenyan Cross Country Trials, won the bronze medal in 28:14 beating Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli (28:16) and Samwel Masai (28:18). Three-time world 10000 metres Joshua Cheptegei finished sixth in 28:24 ahead of world half marathon gold medallist Sebastian Sawe (28:31). 

Kenya placed five athletes in the top eight to win the gold medal in the men’s team standing with 19 points. Uganda earned team silver with 31 points. Ethiopia finished third with 40 ahead of Spain. 

Chimdessa Debele from Ethiopia, African silver medallist in the 10000 metres in 2022, opened up a 20-second gap during the first two laps. France’s Mehdi Frère went into second place. Kiplimo and Joshua Cheptegei ran in the chase group. The field caught up with Debele after 11 minutes. Hosea Kiplangat went to the lead at halfway before Kenya’s Gideon Rono made an attempt to break away from a leading group of ten athletes on the penultimate lap. Cheptegei and Kiplimo were about 30 metres behind the leader. The chasing group caught up with Rono in the final two laps. 

Cheptegei and Kiplimo went to the front with a lap and a half to go. 

Kiplimo stepped up his pace with 24 minutes on the clock dropping Cheptegei, who was not able to keep up. Aregawi chased in second place, while Kiplangat moved into third place. 

Kiplimo cruised to a comfortable win. The Ugandan athlete looked behind him on the final straight to ensure he would not be caught before raising his hands in celebration. 

Jacob Kiplimo: “It actually feels more exciting to defend my title than to win the first one, but it was also tougher. I came here expecting I could win again, but the field was really strong. The pace was fast, the guys pushing it and there was still a big group out in front.It was not until the final 3 km that I felt I needed to move to the front. I did not know anything about the course here in advance. I only learned how it looks when I arrived here two days ago. But the course was fine, a little challenging with the obstacles. It was a little tough running in the heat, but that was not a major issue. I was hungry for medals after missing Budapest last year. I was in good shape, but then the injury happened. I had to get treatment, but I am back now. My running hero is Joshua Cheptegei. My goal this year is to do what he did and win the Olympic gold”

Women’s senior race:

Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet retained her women’s senior title  becoming the first female athlete to win back-to-back world titles since Tirunesh Dibaba in 2016. 

Chebet broke away from Lilian Kasait Rengeruk with 400 metres to go to cross the finish-line first in 31:05 with a gap of three seconds over Rengeruk, who claimed second place in 31:08. Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi from Kenya, world silver medallist in the 5000m in Doha 2019, took third place in 31:09. Kenya has swept the top six positions for the first time in the women’s senior race since Kampala 2017. 

Chebet led Kenya to the gold medal in the women’s team standings with 10 points. 

Agnes Ngetich, Emmaculate Anyango Achol, Beatrice Chebet, Lillian Rengeruk and Margaret Kipkemboi Chelimo went to the lead from the start and went through the first lap in 6:30. The Kenyan team increased the pace during the second lap. 

Ngetich ran side by side with Anyango and Chebet, as they increased their gap during the third lap. Anyango was the first to drop back. 

The leading group was whittled down to three athletes, as Chebet, Rengerek and Kipkemboi Chelimo broke away from Ngetich over the last hill. Chebet launched her kick with 400 metres to go to retain her title one year after her triumph in Bathurst. Chebet crossed the finish-line in 31:05 three seconds clear of Rengeruk. 

Beatrice Chebet: “We won the team title, that showed very strong teamwork. After the Trials we trained together. We eat the same food. We were a team and being together helped us achieve the best result here. It is not easy to come to a world championship and defend your title. There is a lot of pressure. My target was to be on the podium. I felt I was stronger with about 500 metres to go. The course was so good. The weather was good like in Kenya, very sunny, and the obstacles were not so hard”.  

Women’s under 20 race: 

Marta Alemayo from Ethiopia won the women’s under 20 race in 19:28 at the age of 15 in the opening competition becoming the youngest athlete to claim a world cross country gold medal in this category. Alemayo finished fourth at the Ethiopian Trials. 

Alemayo led an Ethiopian podium sweep. Asayech Atichew crossed the finish-line in 19:32 ahead of her compatriot Robe Dida (19:38). Sheila Jebet from Kenya finished fourth in 19:45 beating her compatriot Diana Cherotich (19:47) and African Championships under 20 silver medallist Yenawa Nibret (19:50). The top 14 athletes come from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. The first US athlete Elle Shea placed 15th in 20:50. European under 20 champion Innes Fitzgerald from Great Britain was the first European athlete in 17th place in 21:10. 

Ethiopia won the women’s under 20 race with 12 points ahead of Kenya (28 points) and Uganda (48 points). 

All six Ethiopian athletes run at the front during the third lap. Alemayo, Ayichew and Dida took the lead along with Shelia Chebet and Diana Cherotich. Alemayo and Ayichew pulled away from the rest of the field with 800 metres to go. Alemayo surged away and went on to cross the finish-line in 19:28 beating Ayichew by four seconds. Dida overtook Jebet with 50 metres to go to win the bronze medal. 

Marta Alemayo: “I was expecting to do well and I am not surprised with the win. The win is not important only in itself, but it will also help set up the rest of my career. We have great coaches, who give us a lot of support”. 

Men’s under 20 race: 

Samuel Kibathi from Kenya won the men’s under 20 race in 22:40 holding off Ethiopia’s Mezgebu Sime by one second. Kibathi finished sixth in the 5000 metres in Cali 2022 and won the bronze medal in the 10000 metres at the African under 20 Championships in Zambia last year. 

Samuel Kibathi: It was my first world championships, so it means a lot to me to win here. The pace was very fast and it almost cancelled my plans for this race. I had planned to stay behind and attack at the finish. It was so tough, so hard and I feel exhausted. I wanted it so much so I was really pushing fast towards the finish. I am going back to Japan now, then I plan on preparing for the Kenyan Olympic Trials. My dream for the future is to win an  Olympic and world title. I believe this can be a good start for my future career. My favourite distance on the track is the 5000m”

Matthew Kipkoech Kipruto won the bronze medal in 22:46 edging Yismaw Dillu from Ethiopia by two seconds. 

Sime went to the lead in the final stages of the race, but Kibathi responded by launching his kick to hold off his Ethiopian rival by one second. 

Kenya placed four athletes in the top six retaining their team title in the men’s under 20 race with 15 points. Ethiopia took silver medal (21 points) with four finishers in the top eight. The Ugandan team, led by 11th-place finisher Simba Samuel Cherop, won the team bronze medal with 52  points. 

Mixed relay: 

Kenya regained the world gold medal seven years after winning the inaugural title in the mixed relay. 

The Kenyan team increased their lead with each lap and crossed the finish-line in 22:15 to win by 28 seconds ahead of Ethiopia (22:43). Great Britain claimed the bronze medal in 23:00. 

World under 20 1500 metres champion Reynold Cheruiyot led for most of the first lap. Hosea Kiprop from Uganda tried to keep up the pace with Cheruyiot, but the Kenyan athlete was too strong. 

Cheruyiot handed over to Virgina Nyambura, who maintained a lead of five metres over Ethiopia’s Dahdi Dube for most of the second leg. Nyambura reached the end of the second lap in 11:43 with a one-second lead over Ethiopia. Ella Donaghu moved the USA into third place. 

During the third leg Kyumbe Munguti opened up a solid lead over Ethiopa’s Adehana Kasaye, who maintained second place. As Kasaye entered the exchange zone to hand over to anchor leg runner Birri Abera, Kasaye stepped on Abera’s foot, causing Abera’s shoe to come off. 

Purity Chepkirui, world under 20 1500 metres champion in Nairobi 2021, had a lead of 20 seconds over Ethiopia and increased Kenya’s lead during the final leg. Chepkirui crossed the finish-line in 22:15. Abera held on to finish second in 22:43. Bethan Morley came through with a strong fourth leg to earn Great Britain third place. The British team has won the first senior medal at the World Cross Country Championships for 20 years. 

Morocco took fourth place in 23:08 holding off Uganda (23:10) and France (23:17). Reynold 

Reynold Cheruiyot: “We were the defending champion and that showed we are a strong team, but the competition in the first leg was strong. The pace was fast and I knew I had to open fast”

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