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Menjo and Fernández excel in San Sebastián XC while Cáceres eyes indoor success – Spanish weekend round-up

Solo 27:39.80 victory in humid Melbourne for Josphat Menjo (Getty Images)Solo 27:39.80 victory in humid Melbourne for Josphat Menjo (Getty Images) © Copyright

On a packed Spanish athletics weekend Kenya’s Josephat Kiprono Menjo captured a brilliant win at the ‘Cross Internacional de San Sebastián’ held Sunday (30) while Spain’s reigning European 1500m champion Nuria Fernández bagged the win in the women’s section ahead of Kenya’s Olympic 3000m Steeplechase silver medallist Eunice Jepkorir.

Menjo, who broke the revered 27-minute barrier in the 10,000m event for the first time last summer setting the year’s world best of 26:56.74 in a near solo run in Turku, kicked off yesterday’s 10,000m race very cautiously. By the 4000m point which was crossed in a slow 13:00 time the 31-year-old ace still ran in the company of seven athletes in the guise of his fellow Kenyans Titus Mbishei and Jacob Chesari, Ukraine’s cuurent European champion Sergiy Lebid, Britain’s Scott Overall and the Spanish trio of Ricardo Serrano, Iván Fernández and the world indoor 3000m silver medallist Sergio Sánchez.

It was precisely Sánchez who made the first serious move to leave Overall and Fernández behind while Mbishei, the 2008 World junior 10,000m champion, and Chesari moved to the front just after the halfway to increase the rhythm dramatically. A couple of kilometres timed at 3:02 and 3:00 were enough to make the podium spots clear in favour of Mbishei, Menjo and Lebid.

The 20-year-old Mbishei was fresh from a runner-up place at the IAAF permit in Antrim last weekend just ahead of Chesari while Menjo had placed seventh in Seville the previous week and Lebid finished third in Elgoibar last Sunday.

The in-form triumvirate soon became a duo as Lebid lost contact gradually once Menjo injected a much brisker pace to kill the race thanks to a superb 2:51 ninth kilometre which also left Mbishei well behind him.

The knowledgeable crowd assembled witnessed Menjo’s magnificent display over the closing two kilometres while Mbishei kept Lebid at bay to secure the second spot, seven seconds adrift of Menjo but four seconds clear of the Ukrainian at the tape.

Menjo managed his second win in San Sebastián following his success in 2008 to join an illustrious twice-winner list which includes Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese (2003/2006) and the Ethiopian pair of Fita Bayesa (1992/93) and Mohamed Kedir (1983/84).

Fernández out-sprints Jepkorir – Women’s race

Unlike 2008 when Jepkorir joined her husband Menjo as a victor in San Sebastián, the 28-year-old Kenyan had to settle for second on this occasion. The 6000m event opened very slowly with Spain’s Gema Barrachina making most of the early pacing duties with Jepkorir, Uganda’s Rebecca Cheptegei and Fernández running on her shoulder.

Already within the closing lap Jepkorir tried unsuccessfully to leave the others behind with strong changes of speed up to three times but she only managed to drop Cheptegei with some 400m left. Meanwhile the Spaniards hold off Jepkorir’s challenge and the 34-year-old Fernández took advantage of her track pedigree to unleash a devastating kick some 200 to go to romp home unopposed in 18:54 for Jepkorir’s 19:00 while Barrachina grabbed another third spot - she had also taken third in Amorebieta (9 Jan) and Elgoibar (23 Jan) - to complete a profitable month of January.

Leading Results -
?Men (10,000m) -
?1.  Kiprono Menjo (Ken) 31:06
?2.  Titus Mbishei (Ken) 31:13? 
3.  Sergiy Lebid (Ukr) 31:17? 
4.  Ricardo Serrano (Esp) 31:39? 
5.  Scott Overall (Gbr) 31:43? 
6.  Jacob Chesari  (Ken) 31:52? 
7.  Sergio Sánchez (Esp) 31:55? 
8.  Iván Fernández (Esp) 32:11??

Women (6000m) ?-
1. Nuria Fernández (Esp) 18:54? 
2. Eunice Jepkorir (Ken) 19:00? 
3. Gema Barrachina (Esp) 19:01? 
4. Rebecca Cheptegei (Uga) 19:04? 
5. Frehiwat Goshu (Eth) 19:11? 
6. Milca Chemos Cheywa (Ken) 19:21? 
7. Soud Kambouchia (Mor) 19:24? 
8. Marisa Casanueva (Esp) 19:32

Cáceres show fine early indoor fitness in Zaragoza

Spain’s rising star Eusebio Cáceres promises to be soon a force in the men’s Long Jump. The reigning World Junior silver medallist set a stunning European Junior record of 8.27m last summer at the European championships in Barcelona to lead the qualifying round. He was one of the leading athletes at the ‘12th Gran Premio CAI – Ciudad de Zaragoza’ held on Saturday (29) night.

Cáceres opened with a 7.71m effort but was joined at that measure by the Cuban-born Spaniard Luis Felipe Meliz, an 8.43m jumper who came seventh at the Beijing Olympics.

The second round produced a SB of 7.87m for Cáceres and from then on the 19-year-old decided to look for the ‘big leap’ once the win seemed secured as Meliz didn’t threaten his victory.  Although the outcome of the four remaining leaps was a bit disappointing – Cáceres fouled on all four – two of them were narrow fouls of well beyond the 8.00m barrier which suggests he should be in form for that kind of performance in the meetings to come.

Despite the fact of being held over a 180-metre track the middle-distance events were eagerly awaited thanks to the presence of the current European indoor silver medallists Luis Alberto Marco (800m) and Diego Ruiz (1500m). Unfortunately, the pacemakers’s work proved to be far from ideal and the favourites confirmed their supremacy in slow times of 1:50.08 for Marco and 3:46.67 for Ruiz, who at least snatched a remarkable win as he got the better from the reigning European outdoor bronze medallist Manuel Olmedo, runner-up in 3:47.70.

On the women’s side Josephine Onyia highlighted the competition thanks to a 8.06 60m hurdles clocking. Despite a poor reaction time of 0.191 the Nigerian- born had an overwhelming win which puts her into the medal picture for the European indoor championships in March.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF