Kenyans shine in Cardiff World Half Marathon Champs, A View from Kenya, by Justin Lagat


616209769JM025_IAAF_Cardiff.JPGGeoffrey Kamworor, photo by Getty Images for IAAF

After the World Indoor Championships, I was worried my friend, Justin Lagat, aka @thekenyanathlete, was concerned that his fellow countrymen and women would not be winning any more medals. Then, the World Half Marathon Champs come, and Kenya wins both team title and takes five of six individual medals.

Justin Lagat got this to us in record time, as Kenya celebrates a fine day in wet and windy Cardiff!

Kenyans shine in Cardiff world half marathon championships, by Justin Lagat
With bruised knees and blood showing on his legs, Kamworor crossed the finish line of the Cardiff University world half marathon championships, having fought hard, to win the race and defend his world title.
As soon as the gun had gone off, Geoffrey Kamworor, who was wearing a white Nike cap, stumbled and fell down and runners from behind crushed him to the ground. For some time, there was no sign of him. Then, on one side of the road someone with perhaps the whitest shoes in the field could be spotted floating towards the leading pack. It was Kamworor.
Finally, he was back at the front and a sign of relieve could be seen on the faces of fans who had turned out in large numbers to watch the event at a restaurant in Eldoret.
It was evident, from the fast pace, that no one needed to be reminded that Mo Farah had a strong finishing kick and needed to be dropped off first thing before the competition for individual medals could start, in the later stages of the race.
No one could do a perfect job on this other than Kenya's Bedan Karoki. A race with Karoki in it is usually expected to have surges that cut down the number of athletes in the lead.
The 10km point was crossed in 27:59 with Karoki and Kamworor pushing the pace ahead. Ethiopia's Tamirat Tola had tried his best to stick behind the two Kenyans, but could not hold on anymore when the two Kenyans moved away to the opposite sides of the road and increased the pace a bit leaving him alone in the middle. Tola began to lose ground as another Kenyan, Simon Cheprot, came from behind to overtake him.
One of the two Kenyans had to win the individual title and it was Kamworor who reigned supreme in the end to win gold as Karoki won the silver medal. In the company of Tola and Ayele of Ethiopia, Mo Farah closed the gap on Cheprot and hung there as he counted on his strong finishing kick to get him a bronze medal. He sprinted with about 400m to go and none in his chasing group could match him.
Peres Jepchirchir was among the last athletes to be added to Kenya's team to replace other athletes who had to opt out. I only learned that she was on the team when she was already about to board the plane to Cardiff.
She will be running the Ottawa 10K (an IAAF gold label road race) in May and I was to find her for an interview for that race, only to get her on phone at the airport. But, I confess, that I am proud to have been among the last people to talk to her in Kenya shortly before she went out of the country and became a world champion.
The Kenyan women dominated the race from gun to tape. At some point, it was five Kenyans against four Ethiopians. Then, it was down to four Kenyans against three Ethiopians before it became two Ethiopians against three Kenyans.
The worst that could happen at that point was one medal for Kenya, and the best was three medals for Kenya.
The best happened!
Peres began to push the pace and the two other Kenyans, Cynthia Limo and Mary Ngugi, went with her leaving the two Ethiopians to trail behind.
Cheers and claps followed in the restaurant as Kenyan fans got excited. A sprint finish separated Peres from Limo as the two crossed the line to win gold and silver as Ngugi came in third to complete a clean sweep of the podium positions for Kenya.
It was definitely one of the best outings for Kenyans in a world championship. The only individual medal that was not won by a Kenyan was one bronze medal that went to Mo Farah.

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