It was the greatest Easter gift for Kenyans after World Cross-country champion Geoffrey Kamworor and Peris Chepchirchir once again put the country on top of the World after winning the World Marathon titles in Cardiff in a classical style.
Kamworor, who was defending the crown he won in 2014, overcame the frustrations of a near-fall at the beginning of the race and tackled the hard course brilliantly as his running partner Bedan Karoki paced him though to return 59:09 amidst hostile weather conditions at the end.
Athletics fans in Rift Valley and Central Kenya, who were watching the championships keenly, burst in ululations and dance as the champion and Karoki tactically duped Tamirat Tola from Ethiopia with a triangular sprint that saw the opponent unable to keep the pace.
Despite the fall of Kamworor at the gun before loosing his white cap, the hard-fighting and smart-running star did not allow the mishap to weigh him down as he regained his footing and took strategic position in the leading pack as Karoki did the donkey work of setting high pace.
“I was trying to get up, but people kept coming from behind me. It was very difficult will all those people struggling to move forward,” said Kamworor of his fall in a post-race interview.
But more was in store as the two took control of the 21kilometres race and it was difficult to discern who was likely to take the lead between the two although it was Kamworor who, as defending champion, had the last gas for the deciding kick.
“That was a timely move by the two Kenyans. It caught the Ethiopian, who had stuck with Kenyans after the front battle was reduced to three antagonists, unaware. Before he realized the trick, the Kenyans had gone,” observed Coach Francis Kamau, who trains Karoki in Nyahururu.
In Kapsabet where fan had flocked at Tortoise Resort, an entertainment joint owned by Wilfred Bungei, the 2008 Olympics 800metres champion, screams rented the air as the team received wild cheers after the winners hit the tape before being received by Kennedy Tanui, one of the team officals.
Although the battle was expected to be between Kamworor and Great Britain’s Mo Farah, it was reduced to the two Kenyans who run shoulder-to-shoulder after the 15th kilometer until Kamworor, also the World 10,000metres silver medalist, pulled away from Karoki during the last kilometre as the leaders tackled wet and windy conditions before the victory.
But the men’s ending could not replicate the women’s 1-2-3 podium sweep after Farah, who was the Kenyan’s main headache, overtook Raymond Cheprot over the last 500metres and sprinted with two Ethiopians and relegated the Kenyan to the 6th position as two other Team members Edwin Kipyego and namesake Edwin Kiptoo fought from behind.
Farah took the bronze medal ahead of Abayeh Ayele and Tamirat Tola who arrived fourth and fifth with spirited sprints to the crossing line. It was sweet victory for the country as they celebrate Easter this year after the trio of Peris Chepchirchir, Cynthia Limo and Mary Wacera tamed the Ethiopian pair of Netsanet Gudeta and Genet Yalew to claim the first three places, bagging the top three medals beforetaking the overall crown.
Gladys Chesir and Pascalia Jepkorir winded up 6th and 7th to revenge on Kenyan’s mixed results during last week World Indoor championship were Kenya won two bronze medals through Augustine Choge and Margaret Nyairera in 3,000metres and 800metres.
The team which also took the two overall titles, arrived back In the country on Monday at 2:30Pm and will be received with jubilations characteristics with previous victorious teams.