Wilson Kiprop emerged as a winner at the Diekirch Eurocross on Sunday (15) after beating down fellow Kenyan Titus Masai in a breathtaking duel. The women’s race turned out to be a family affair with Mimi Belete finishing 7 seconds ahead of her younger sister Almensh. Pre-race favourite Annemari Sandell-Hyvärinen from Finland withdrew from the race due to illness.
Eurocross is an IAAF Cross Country permit meeting.
MEN - Wilson Kiprop the strongest in a thrilling race
A leading group of seven athletes was soon formed in the men’s race, including four Kenyans and three Moroccans. Moroccan Hamid El Mouaziz led the pack from the second through to the fourth lap and that caused the leading group to crumble. But the leaders regrouped until Wilson Kiprop and Titus Masai eventually took command of the race.
The two Kenyans gradually opened up a gap with the following group and it was clear that the race would be decided between them. Kiprop accelerated and it looked as if he would finish alone but Masai struggled and worked his way back. In the ultimate stages Kiprop had the strongest legs to out-sprint his compatriot. Robert Sigei completed the Kenyan podium and Moroccan Ahmed Baday finished fourth.
Kiprop and Masai only confirmed their participation this Saturday (14) after having competed successfully at 5000m at the Düsseldorf indoor meeting last Friday (13). The 22-year old Kiprop finished fourth in Germany in 13:30 while his two year younger mate Masai set 13:44 there. A truly an impressive introduction on the European scene for Kenyans Wilson Kiprop and Titus Masai !
WOMEN – A confident demonstration of form by Mimi Belete
Mimi Belete is showing consistent form this winter in cross country running, and so her run today in Diekirch was hardly a surprise. Already before the end of the first lap Almensh Belete, the younger sister of Mimi went into the lead and tried to spread the pack apart. Hanane Ouhaddou from Morocco was able to stay with the pace for some time but soon both Ethiopians were in the lead together. Mimi Belete attacked in the last lap and crossed the line comfortably ahead.
Mimi and Almensh Belete have lived in Belgium for several years now as political refugees. They are in a process of obtaining Belgian nationality. Coached by Henri Salavarda, they set PB’s at 1500m of 4:06.48 and 4:10.86 respectively in 2008. Their progress has been remarkable and they are hoping to compete at international championships soon, should they be eligible to compete for their new country. Belgian track and field is truly excited about their talent and about the inspiration that they add to distance running in Belgium.
Ouhaddou came in a third and was followed by that other steeplechaser Habiba Ghribi from Tunisia. The women’s race was slightly devalued by the absence of Sandell-Hyvärinen who had to withdraw due to illness. Still, the organisers were satisfied with both the level and the conditions at this year Eurocross. “The course was not muddy at all and the weather conditions were even sunny,” said Antoine Moureaud. “The men’s race was absolutely exciting and seeing two young Kenyans battle and beating down the reputed Robert Sigei was a highlight. The Belete sisters have shown their huge potential for the future. I’m sure that their win today in Diekirch will give a boost to their athletics career.”
Ivo Hendrix for the IAAF
Men – 10.2km
1. Wilson Kiprop (KEN) 30:27
2. Titus Masai (KEN 30:30
3. Robert Sigei (KEN) 30:49
4. Ahmed Baday (MOR) 30:58
5. James Cheptuiyon (KEN) 31:04
Women – 5.35km
1. Mimi Belete (ETH) 18:23
2. Almensh Belete (ETH) 18:30
3. Hanane Ouhaddou (MOR) 18:35
4. Habiba Ghribi (TUN) 18:44
5. Maryline Pellen (FRA) 18:48