Former European cross country champion Sergiy Lebid of the Ukraine and Bahrain’s 1500 metres star Maryam Yussuf Jamal took impressive wins at the 75th edition of the Cinque Mulini IAAF Cross Country Permit Meeting in San Vittore Olona held in a sunny and warm day attended by past Italian middle and long distance running legends like Alberto Cova, Gabriella Dorio and Paola Pigni.
Second win in two weeks for Lebid
Lebid has showed that he is returning to his best form after finishing a distant twelfth at the last edition of the European Cross Country Championships in San Giorgio su Legnano where he suffered from stomach problems. The Ukrainian star, who is based for most of the year in Northern Italy, clinched his second consecutive win in one week after taking the honours in the Almond Blossom IAAF Cross Country race in Albufeira (Portugal).
In the first laps Lebid, who has recently suffered from a slight injury in his left knee, decided to run more cautiously remaining in the leading group and leaving the early initiative to Italian top cross country runners Gabriele De Nard and Luciano Di Pardo and Kenyans Robert Kipchumba and Mark Bett.
A seven-man group which included Italian-based Jamel Chatbi of Morocco, former European junior cross country and 10,000 metres champion Vasyl Matvichuk, De Nard and Kipchumba still ran at the front with two laps to go.
Chatbi pushed the pace briefly passing through the famous Chiapparini Farm when the leading pack was reduced to four men: Chatbi, Kipchumba, Matvichuk and Lebid.
After the bell Chatbi upped the pace closely followed by Kipchumba but Lebid was not beaten.
Lebid used his usual devastating kick which has already earned him many important wins in the past to pull away from former World junior cross country champion Robert Kipchumba in the final 300 metres inside the old Cross Country Stadium where the finish-line was located.
Kipchumba did not give up but could not respond to Lebid’s breathtaking attack which earned him a very narrow win in a close race where both Lebid and Kipchumba crossed the finish-line in 32:00.
Chatbi produced the big surprise of the San Vittore’s race finishing in third place six seconds behind Lebid and Kipchumba.
For Lebid it was the second Cinque Mulini win of his career after 2003 when he beat Boniface Kiprop and Zersenay Tadesse.
“I decided to wait before launching my attack. This victory is dedicated to my friends in Italy. My training has gone very well apart from a minor knee injury in mid-January. I will skip the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa to begin my preparation for my marathon debut. I will possibly run in the Berlin Marathon in September but my racing plan is still to be decided,” said Lebid.
Baldini still looking for best shape
Reigning Olympic and European champion Stefano Baldini finished a distant twelfth in his return to competition which followed a bout of flu in mid-February which has affected his training plans.
“I struggled from the beginning. Unfortunately my preparation has not gone according to plans in the last four weeks. Tomorrow I am leaving for Namibia for the second period of training. I have a lot of work to do to be in good shape at the London Marathon,” said Baldini.
"Very easy" win for Jamal
Last year’s World Athletics Final and World Cup 1500 metres winner Maryam Yussuf Jamal won easily over Zhor El Kamch of Morocco (seventh in the short course race at the World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka last year) and former European cross country bronze medallist Aniko Kalovics of Hungary in the women’s 5km race.
This trio went to the front since the early stage of the race. El Kamch held the front of the race closely followed by Jamal after the first lap.
During the second lap Jamal upped the pace increasing her lead on El Kamch by a solid margin.
Lausanne-based Jamal, who was born in Ethiopia in the region of Arsi but runs for Bahrain, ran smoothly in the second lap crossing the finish-line in 16:56, eight seconds ahead of El Kamch.
Last year’s Cinque Mulini winner Kalovics, who is in the mid of her preparation for the Turin Marathon, lost ground in the last lap and finished third 27 seconds behind Jamal.
“It was a very easy race. I left the initiative to El Kamch before going into the lead in the final kilometre. I will not run in Mombasa but I will start my preparation for the track season. My first race will be in Doha in mid-May,” said Jamal.
Fatna Maraoui, a cross country specialist born in Morocco who obtained Italian citizenship via marriage, finished in fourth place but was first among Italians backing up her leading position in the Italian Fidal Grand Prix with just one leg to be contested next week in Villalagarina which will play host to the Italian Cross Country Championships.
Marathon specialist Ruggero Pertile, first Italian finisher in the men’s race leads the men’s scoreboard of the Italian Grand Prix.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
Results of the Cinque Mulini in San Vittore Olona
Men (10.2 km)
1 Sergiy Lebid (Ukraine) 32:00
2 Robert Kipchumba (Kenya) 32:00
3 Jamel Chatbi (Morocco) 32:06
4 Vasil Matvichuk (Ukraine) 32:24
5 Ruggero Pertile (Italy) 32:38
6 Giammarco Buttazzo (Italy) 32:43
7 Gabriele De Nard (Italy) 32:50
8 Mark Bett (Kenya) 32:54
9 Andrea Lalli (Italy) 33:01
10 Fabio Mascheroni (Italy) 33:20
11 Luciano Di Pardo (Italy) 33:32
12 Stefano Baldini (Italy) 33:34
Women (5 km)
1 Maryam Yussuf Jamal (Barhain) 16:56
2 Zhor El Kamch (Morocco) 17:04
3 Aniko Kalovics (Hungary) 17:23
4 Fatna Maraoui (Italy) 17:58
5 Renate Rungger (Italy) 18:07
6 Silvia Sommaggio (Italy) 18:15
7 Sara Dossena (Italy) 18:26
8 Sara Orsi (Italy) 18:32
9 Federica Dal Ri (Italy) 18:35
10 Sara Yussuf Yaqoob (Barhain) 18:38