Bathurst, Australia, February 18 2023–Kenya’s Pamela Kosgei won bronze in the Women U20 World Cross Country Championships as Ethiopian teenager Senayet Getachew upset the pre-race favourites to win a close and arduous U20 women’s race staged in searing 36C heat.
Getachew, 17, who finished third in her national junior cross-country trial, claimed gold in the rough-and-tumble 6km encounter.
Ethiopian compatriot Medina Eisa, 18, finished close on her teammate’s heels to snatch the silver. Just a breadth away in third was Kenya’s Pamela Kosgei, 15.
The podium times reflect the closeness of the race which featured steep downhills, mud and slush, taxing climbs and challenging mounds with Getachew clocking 20:53, Medina 21:00 and Kosgei 21:01.
Getachew credited her Ethiopian teammates with assisting her breakthrough victory.
“We were preparing ourselves for this world championship and our team spirit was good,” Getachew said. “When we run together in this race, that team spirit helped me to win.”
Sixty-one athletes from 16 countries started the event and there was drama right from the start with the world’s leading juniors slipping and tumbling in the mud. At the end of the first of three 2km laps, nine runners were bunched together, clocking 7:10 at the turn.
The story was similar after the second lap with the top seven separated but just one second.
Sheer guts determined the top three on the final lap as they pushed through the heat and the pain to reach the finish line.
The event was staged at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama, the spiritual home of Australian motor sport which hosts the annual Bathurst 1000, a 1000km annual race for touring cars, held each October. The site for the 2km loop course was chosen because of the rural setting and tough terrain.
For her part, Eisa can add her silver medal to the 5000m gold she won at the 2022 World U20 Championships. Kosgei, meanwhile, gets to take home bronze after previously placing fifth in the world U20 steeplechase.
By claiming the medals, the top three finishers also honoured history and previous champions as the last time an athlete outside of Kenya or Ethiopia made it on to the U20 women’s podium at the World Cross was 24 years ago, back in 1999.
Predictably, in the team competition Ethiopia won gold (15) while Kenya scored silver (22). More surprisingly the United States snared the bronze (54), led by Ellie Shea.
For Athletics Kenya