23 JAN 2005 General News Eldoret, Kenya

Chebii returns to fitness and form in Eldoret

Abraham Chebii celebrates his win at the 2005 Discovery Kenya Cross Country meet (Omulo)Abraham Chebii celebrates his win at the 2005 Discovery Kenya Cross Country meet (Omulo) © Copyright

Abraham Chebii and Leah Malot stole the show at the 14th edition of Discovery Kenya cross country meeting in this northern Rift Valley Provincial town on Saturday (22 Jan).

Chebii, who did not finish his 5000m race at last year's Olympic Games in Athens due to injury, led the 12km race from start and won by a huge margin, leaving Simion Kiprop and Abraham Cherono gasping more than 100 metres behind. Chebii stopped the clock in 36:36, while Kiprop upstaged Cherono, who had stayed in second position for a larger part of the race, for second spot in 37:02. Cherono clocked 37:12.

"Last year was pretty bad. I had a lot of injuries which made me perform very poorly. But that is behind me now and I am focusing on the World Cross Country Championships in France and track World Championships in Finland," said Chebii, 25, who was disappointed that there were no big names like Eliud Kipchoge to give him stiffer competition. "I am not sure whether to go for the 4km or the 12km at the National Championships next month. But which ever race I decide to go for, I think I am in good shape," said Chebii, who last year won the short course race at the Kenyan Nationals only to finish 19th in World Cross Country in Brussels.

The World Junior 5000m champion Augustine Choge, 18, won the junior men's 8km race in 25:02.

Malot in-form too

The evergreen Leah Malot clinched the top position in the senior women's 8km race in 28:29, ahead of Catherine Kirui who clocked 28:32.

"I am just beginning the season and I am very excited about the whole thing. I mean, this performance is incredible. Isn't it?" commented an excited Malot, who is a mother of a 10-year-old son. "I will gauge the performance at the national championships. At the moment (I make) no promises." Malot, 33, has raced consistently for 18 years since winning the 10,000m gold in All African Games in Nairobi in 1987.

Growing strength

This year's edition of the Discovery Kenya Cross Country meeting which was staged at the Eldoret Sports Club, featured 2050 runners compared to 1600 last year. Its highest point was the races for minors which featured some of the youngest talents, the only meeting in the country with races for athletes as young as 10 years.

The race also attracted some prominent athletes who came to offer their support to the event as high-profile spectators, like Qatar's Saif Saaeed Shaheen, Holland’s Lornah Kiplagat, and Kenya's Olympic 3000m Steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi, and marathon queen Margaret Okayo, among others.

Omulo Okoth (The Standard) for IAAF


Leading results:

Women

6km Junior
1. Pauline Korkwang 21:12
2. Chemutai Kiplagat 21:30
3. Pamela Lisoreng 21:31
4. Edith Chelimo 21:34
5. Chemweno Gladys 21:37

8km Senior
1. Leah Malot 28:29
2. Catherine Kirui 28:32
3. Rita Cheptoo Bush 28:35
4. Salome Chepchumba 28:52
5. Rose Chepchumba 28:57

Men

8km Junior
1. Augustine Choge 25:02
2. Joel Toromosi 25:03
3. Stanley Sahihi 25:05
4. James Kirwa 25:10
5. Jackson Kotut 25:13

12km Senior
1. Abraham Chebii 36:36
2. Simion Kiprop 37:02
3. Abraham Cherono 37:12
4. Hosea Kogo 37:15
5. Elius Kemboi 37:16