General News Antrim, Northern Ireland

Kigen repeats in foggy Antrim

Kenya's Mike Kigen successfully defends his title in Antrim (Mark Shearman)Kenya's Mike Kigen successfully defends his title in Antrim (Mark Shearman) © Copyright

Kenya's Mike Kigen claimed back-to-back senior wins having led for most of the race in today's Antrim International, an IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting (22). Charlotte Purdue (GBR) took the women’s race.

MEN

Kigen had to overcome a strong challenge from his Kenyan compatriots and also testing weather conditions, with dense fog prevailing over the 9km course. His winning time was 26:07.

Titus Mbishei, a silver medallist in the World Junior Cross Country Championships two years ago, took second spot in 26:13, with Jacob Cheshari (26:21) making it a 1-2-3 for Kenya.

Kigen, who turned 25 last week, impressively beat his time of 12 months ago (27:49) in what was a fast-paced race.

Last year's second-placed finisher, Andy Vernon of Great Britain, came home in a disappointing seventh place, although he finished over a minute quicker than his 2010 time.

Kigen's win ensured that first place was taken by an African athlete for the 19th time in 20 years. Indeed, the top six positions were filled by Africans today.

"Today was very tough because of my friends, the Kenyans. The race was really tough today, not like last year," admitted Kigen after the race.

"The course today was better than last year because last year it was very muddy."

Kigen, who forced the pace early on, added: "I was leading for most of the race today, but I wasn't sure because I wanted to keep pushing and the guys were really tough.”

"With two laps to go I tried again and pushed. I was seeing these guys as they were still going strong. On the last lap, I started to push it on."

WOMEN

In the Women's 5.4km race, it was a clean sweep for Great Britain with talented teenager Charlotte Purdue taking the title in a time of 17:57.

The 19-year-old from Aldershot continued her strong form of recent weeks, which started with a massive 17-second victory margin when taking the European Cross Country title in Portugal. She also had an easy win in last Saturday's McCain Cross Challenge in Cardiff.

Here at Greenmount, Purdue enjoyed an absorbing battle with last year's World Junior Cross Country bronze medallist, Esther Chemtai from Kenya, before edging clear.

"I'm really pleased with the way things are going for me. I just want to stay injury free for the rest of the season and I'm looking forward to the World Cross Country in March," she said afterwards.

"I'm used to doing a lot of training. I taper it down for races obviously, so the training is less towards the end of the week.”

"I love racing, that's what I train to do - to race. I'm happy to race all of the time."

Six of the top seven finishers were Great Britain athletes, with Purdue eclipsing the 17-year-old Chemtai in the final lap.

Chemtai had to settle for third spot in a time of 18:04, after being passed by another Briton Louise Damen. Gladys Ganiel-O'Neill was the first of the Northern Ireland athletes past the finish line, clocking 19:23 for tenth place.

Cóilín Duffy for the IAAF

RESULTS

MEN

1. M Kigen (KEN) 26:07
2. T Mbishei (KEN) 26:13
3. J Cheshari (KEN) 26:21
4. D Masai (KEN) 26:31
5. M Kibet (UGA) 26:37
6. S Kibet (UGA) 26:49
7. A Vernon (GBR) 27:04
8. M Skinner (ENG) 27:10

WOMEN

1. C Purdue (GBR) 17:57
2. L Damen (GBR) 18:03
3. E Chemtai (KEN) 18:04