Kimeli, Jebitok dominate in Elgoibar cross country – The Star, Kenya

Nicholas Kimeli and Edinah Jebitok captured commanding wins at the 78th Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold meeting – in the Spanish town of Elgoibar on Sunday

Kimeli, who finished fourth in the Tokyo Olympics in the 5000m,  clocked 33:47 with Ethiopia’s Addisu Yihine finishing second in 33:53 and Rodgers Kibet of Uganda completed the podium in 34:05.

The world Under-20 steeplechase champion Amos Serem finished eighth in 35.19. 

The men’s 10.8km contest kicked off with Spain’s European indoor 3000m bronze medallist Adel Mechaal taking an early lead. He was closely followed by Ugandan teenager Rodgers Kibet and the rest of the favourites, including Ethiopia’s Campaccio winner Addisu Yihune and Kimeli. 

Kibet moved to the front after the second kilometre and began to push hard. His brisk pace was followed only by Yihune, Kimeli, Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale and Serem.

Following successive laps of 6:40 and 6:39, first Serem and then Wale lost ground and the race became a three-athlete battle between the front-runner Kibet, Yihune and Kimeli, who had reportedly experienced slight back pain on the eve of the race.

Kibet’s relentless pace led to a 6:35 penultimate circuit and the three African aces reached the bell virtually even, much to the delight of the knowledgeable crowd assembled.

Some two minutes into the closing lap, the 16-year-old Kibet began to falter as Yihune engaged another gear.

The last kilometre was thrilling as the Ethiopian built a two-second gap on Kimeli over the toughest section of the course and he seemed a safe bet for the win. However, a brave Kimeli finally managed to catch Yihune and released a lethal change of speed over the final 200m to stride home unopposed

In the women’s 7.6 km category, Jebitok led a Kenyan 1-2 with a winning time of 26.03. 2018 world under-20 5000m champion, Beatrice Chebet finished second in 26.18 as Prisca Chesang of Uganda came home third in 26:33. World 3,000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech finished a disappointing eighth in 27.39.

Both races were held in non-stop heavy rain, with the women’s event setting off at a moderate pace.

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