Kenyans win half the medal haul

Punta Umbria, Spain

Six gold medals – three individual and three team titles – are on the plane home after Kenya on Sunday dominated the proceedings in the 39th edition of the World Cross Country Championship here.

Kenya also won the overall team title with 15 points ahead of Ethiopia (29) and United States of America (57).

Vivian Cheruiyot, Geoffrey Kipsang and Faith Chepngetich won in the senior women’s, junior men’s and junior women’s races as Imana Marga won the gold for Ethiopia in the senior men’s 12km race in 33 minutes 50 seconds, ahead of Kenya’s Paul Kipngetich Tanui (33:52).

Having won all the gold medals in Poland last year, Kenya saw the senior men’s individual title and junior women’s team title slip through their fingers – but not without putting up a gallant fight.

The story of the championship, however, was that of Vivian Cheruiyot. Running her first cross country race since Mombasa four years ago when she wound eighth, Cheruiyot scooped gold in the senior women’s race in 24 minutes 58 seconds.

She beat Linet Masai again in their second battle in Spain this season, after Sevilla in January.

‘I have won everything now’

“I have won everything now, save for that elusive Olympic medal. Well that is a year from now and let me now focus on World Championship and that I can start worrying about it next year,” said Cheruiyot.

“I will now see how best to defend my 5,000m title in Daegu in September.”

Geoffrey Kipsang and Faith Chepng’etich, running barefoot, won gold in their respective junior men’s and women’s races.

As usual, the junior races remained unpredictable with new champions emerging but Kenya had mixed results, winning both individual gold medals but losing the junior women’s team title to Ethiopia.

Geoffrey Kipsang, who had been denied access to board the plane from Nairobi to Spain, emerged the champion in the junior men’s 8km race in 22.21.