Imana Marga produced in a devastating turn of pace to take the World Cross Country title in Spain in Sunday in an event that saw the South African squad produce their best ever result in the championships.
Marga was the sole Ethiopian in the pack that had been whittled down from around 20 to five by the final lap. Taking a tight line through the final corner Marga moved wide and produced a sprint that left the quadruplet of Kenyans searching for gears as the Ethiopian broke through the tape in 33 minutes 50 seconds for the 12km distance.The Kenyans had the consolation of earing their third team Gold of the day.
Stephen Mokoka, was again the leader of the South African squad tactically moving from 28th position after the first lap to 15th at the finish in 35 minutes 10 seconds. Under his leaderships the team moved from seventh into fifth position, the best they have achieved to date. Kgosi Tsosane was lying less than five places behind until the penultimate lap when he seemed to lose steam, but hung on for a 29th place finish, while Tshamano Setone moved up to 25th in 35:38, ten seconds ahead of Tsosane.
In recent years the South African squad has improved their standing on each outing and this years event saw all four teams make their marks in the top ten of their categories. This can only see an overall improvement in the standard of running in the country in the future.
Vivian Cheruiyot and Linet Masai made it one-two to give a solid foundation for Kenya to take the team Gold in the senior women’s event, ahead of Ethiopia and a surprised USA team. Cheruiyot was over 60 metres clear when she crossed the line in 24 minutes 58 seconds. It was Shalane Flanagan who provided the upset result finishing third in 25 minutes 10 seconds for the bronze and leading the USA team home.
Rene Kalmer led the South African sextet home in 31st position in 27 minutes and two seconds, which was just over two minutes off the pace. Kalmer turned the tables on the likes of Annerien van Schalkwyk and Lebogang Phalula who have beaten her in recent outings, something that must race the questions as to whether some of the team were over-raced prior to the world championships. This said the overall ninth team place is one of the best by the country since the international return almost twenty years ago.
Faith Kipyegon outsprinted a trio of Ethiopians to win the Junior Women title in 18:53, but even with her team mates filling fifth, sixth and seventh spot it was not enough to secure the team gold which went to Ethiopia led by second placed Genet Yalew.
The South African junior women’s team placed tenth overall
With the Kenyan team led home by Geoffrey Kamworor in 22 minutes 21 seconds they dominated the podium in the Junior Men section. Thomas Ayeko earned the silver medal assisting Uganda to the bronze team prize behind Ethiopia . South Africa were sixth team overall with William Kaptein the best of the green and gold athletes in 26th position in 23 minutes 52 seconds only one minute 31 seconds off the pace.
Senior Men 1 Imana Marga ETH 33:50, 2 Paul Tanui KEN 33:52, 3 Vincent Chepkok KEN 33:53, 4 Mathew Kisorio KEN 33:55, 5 Geoffrey Mutai KEN 34:03
RSA 15 Stephen Moroka 35:10, 25 Tshamano Setone 35:38, 29 Kgosi Tsosane 35:48, 44 Moorosi Soke 36:11, 101 Xolisa Tyali 39:20, 106 Lungisa Mdedelwa 40:22.
Team: 1 Kenya, 2 Ethiopia, 3 USA, … 9 South Africa
1 Vivian Cheruiyot KEN 24:58, 2 Linet Chepkwemoi KEN 25:07, 3 Shalane Flanagan USA 25:10, 4 Meselech Melkamu ETH 25:18, 5 Prisch Cherono KEN 25:20
RSA: 31 Rene Kalmer 27:02, 44 Lebo Phalula 27:23, 60 Annerien van Schalkwyk 27:40, 63 Tebogo Masehla 27:46, 79 Lebogang Phalula 28:29, 84 Mapaseka Makhanya 28:36
Junior women –
Team: 1 Ethiopia, 2 Kenya, 3 Japan … 10 South Africa
1 Faith Kipyegon KEN 18:53, 2 Genet Yalew ETH 18:54, 3 Azemra Gebru ETH 18:54, 4 Waganesh Mekasha ETH 18:59, 5 Janeth Kisa KEN 19:20
RSA 44 Khonzeni Gwegwa 21;29, 47 Sylvia Tshetlanyana 21:39, 51 Letitia Saayman 21:42, 57 Caroline Marandela 21:56, 74 Thandeka Manzana 22:23
Team: 1 Kenya, 2 Ethiopia, 3 Uganda, 4 Eritrea, 5 Morocco, 6 South Africa
1 Geoffrey Kamworor KEN 22:21, 2 Thomas Ayeko UGA 22:27, 3 Patrick Mwikya KEN 22:32, 4 Bonsa Dida ETH 22:39, 5 Fikadu Haftu ETH 22:43
RSA 26 William Kaptein 23:52, 28 Luyanda Qolo 23:59, 34 Jeremy Andreas 24:23, 35 Merlin Klaaste 24:23, 70 Mmusu Sesipi 25:35