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Kenya’s reigning World Cross Country champion Joseph Ebuya captured a more than convincing 19-second victory in the 29th ‘Cross Internacional de la Constitución’ held Sunday (5) on a cloudy and cold (7º C) day in the outskirts of Madrid.
In doing so, the 23-year-old took revenge on Eritrean Teklemariam Medhin as the reigning World Cross Country silver medallist had beaten him at this season’s inaugural IAAF permit held in Atapuerca four weeks ago. Actually, the 21-year-old Medhin suffered his first loss of the season today following his victories in Atapuerca and Llodio.
The women’s race witnessed Portugal’s Monica Rosa win by just one second ahead of Morocco’s Bouchra Chaabi.
Men’s race: Ebuya arrives last but romps home first
For the second year in a row the Alcobendas line-up featured the reigning World Cross Country champion although an air traffic controllers strike was about to prevent Ebuya’s presence. Finally, the Kenyan ace was able to fly from London to Madrid on late Saturday afternoon only arriving at the hotel at midnight. Meanwhile his arch-rival Medhin quietly awaited for the clash as he is based in Madrid.
The 10,000m contest was the eagerly-awaited two-horse fight from the early stages as Ebuya and Medhin pulled away from the rest barely five minutes into the race. It was the Kenyan who was pushing hard throughout while Medhin tried to live with Ebuya’s terrific pace. Way back Eritrea’s Kidane Tadese and Spain’s current World Indoor 3000m silver medallist Sergio Sánchez were closest to the leading duo.
Ebuya’s front running soon proved to be too tough for Medhin as the former opened a sizeable gap before the 4000m point. At halfway, no fewer than 11 seconds separated the first two from the last worlds in Bydgoszcz in favour of the 2007 victor in Alcobendas Ebuya while Tadese maintained a comfortable 10-second advantage on Sánchez.
The second half of the race didn’t produce any major changes at the top spots. An imperial Ebuya delighted the assembled crowd with a magnificent display of strength to gradually open a bigger margin on the in-form Medhin. At the tape, Ebuya’s winning margin was 19 seconds while Tadese kept Sánchez at bay to complete a star-studded podium as he finished 32 seconds adrift of Ebuya but five seconds ahead of the 28-year-old Spaniard.
It’s worth mentioning the eighth place signed by Arturo Casado, the reigning European 1500m champion, after a fierce sprint finish with Reyes Estévez, a former World 1500m bronze medallist, who has announced he’s moving up to the 3000m Steeplechase this season.
A satisfied Ebuya declared, “This win is particularly important for me as the guys assembled here were very strong. I pushed hard from the beginning as that’s the tactic which suits me best and also to avoid a tight finish.”
Asked on his title defence next year, Ebuya confirmed, “I’ll be in Punta Umbría to defend my gold medal at the Worlds and the fact of being on Spanish soil is good for me as I have competed several times here over the last few years. ” Ebuya added that he’ll now head back to Kenya to continue training but that he’ll likely return to Europe for some races in January.
Kambouchia pushes but Rosa prevails
In the absence of world class Africans plus the most in-form Portuguese and Spanish athletes selected for next Sunday’s European championships in Albufeira, the women’s 5.9km race kicked-off with the early lead of Morocco’s Soud Kambouchia who ruled a group of four also including her compatriot Bouchra Chaabi (a 4:03.62 1500m performer), Monica Rosa and South Africa’s Soria victor Dina Lebo Phalula, the latter being the first to lose ground.
The relentless rhythm set by the Spain-based Kombuchia allowed her to open a five-second gap at halfway on Rosa, herself another three seconds clear of Chaabi but the 28-year-old Casablanca-native began to falter within the closing 2500m portion and was easily overtaken by Rosa with some 600m left while Chaabi also passed her soon afterwards.
Rosa’s lead on Chaabi seemed comfortable at those closing stages but the Moroccan managed to lower her disadvantage and she finally only lost by one second to the Portuguese, 20:15 and 20:16 their respective times while Kambouchia had to settle for third being timed at 20:30.
The winner Rosa made her debut at the Marathon last spring with a 2:37:09 performance in Paris but she did not finish the Barcelona Europeans 42.195m contest.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
MEN (10,100m) - 1. Joseph Ebuya, KEN 29:37 2. Teklemariam Medhin, ERI 29:56 3. Kidane Tadese, ERI 30:09 4. Sergio Sánchez, ESP 30:14 5. Cuthbert Nysango, ZIM 30:58 6. David Solís, ESP 31:12 7. Antonio Jiménez, ESP 31:13 8. Alberto García, ESP 31:16 9. Arturo Casado, ESP 31:36 10. Reyes Estévez, ESP 31:36
WOMEN (5900m) - 1. Monica Rosa, POR 20:15 2. Bouchra Chaabi, MOR 20:16 3. Soud Kombuchia MOR 20:30 4. Gema Barrachina, ESP 20:38 5. Estela Navascués, ESP 20:42 6. Sonia Bejarano, ESP 20:49 7. Teresa Urbina, ESP 21:10 8. Dina Lebo Phalula, RSA 21:31 9. Esther Hidalgo, ESP 21:32 10. Azucena Díaz, ESP 21:44