Ethiopia’s Tadesse Tola and Spain’s Marta Domínguez were respectively the men’s and women’s victors at the ‘28th Cross Internacional de Venta de Baños' held today on quite a cold but sunny morning which hardly reached 3ºC.
In winning Tola succeeded his countryman Sileshi Sihine to keep the Ethiopian supremacy at the event while local idol Domínguez won for the first time in her village taking advantage of the peak form she had reached to contest last Sunday’s Europeans XC Championships.
Both Tola and Domínguez captured thrilling sprint victories getting the better of Eshetu Wondimu and Aniko Kalovics, respectively.
MEN – Tola leads an Ethiopian double
The men’s event, contested over a 10.4km quite flat course was billed as an always fascinating Kenya-Ethiopia battle and the development of the race didn’t let anyone down. Right from the start it was Tola who dictated most of the early pace but by the 3km point the leading group was still made up of no less than nine athletes, five Africans and four Spaniards.
The Mombasa top-ten Kenyan pairing of Bernard Kiprop Kipyego and Michael Kupyego were also running at the front alongside Tola and fellow Ethiopian Eshetu Wondimu while only Chema Martínez dared to take the lead briefly among the Spaniards.
Successive 2.1km laps of 6:07, 6:19 and 6:08 dropped firstly three-time European XC silver medalllist Juan Carlos de la Ossa and then European 5000m champion Jesús España.
At the bell seven men still remained in contention but the Ethiopians and Kenyans ruled the race with ease while the rest struggled and finally lost ground before the last kilometre.
The key movement came with 500m to go when Tola injected a brisker pace and the reigning World Cross Country bronze medallist Bernard Kiprop Kipyego was dropped from the leading group while his fellow Kenyan M. Kipyego also lost his victory chance with less than 200m left.
The home-straight witnessed a thrilling sprint victory by Tola - 30:39 the winning time - one second ahead of Wondimu, who is an accomplished road runner.
Michael Kipyego finished a comfortable third, five seconds behind Tola but himself two seconds clear of ‘the other Kipyego’. Tola, who covered the final lap in a frantic 5.46, is the reigning Ethiopian cross country champion, took a respectable 7th in Mombasa and holds a fine 10,000 PB of 27:04.89.
In the fight for the secondary places Eritrea’s Ali Abdallah came fifth while Chema Martínez was victorious in the domestic battle some 12 seconds clear of Lamdasem and 23 on España.
WOMEN – European champion Domínguez takes honours at last!
Everything was ready in Venta de Baños to pay tribute to the multiple (5000, 3000 indoors, and Cross Country) European champion Marta Domínguez and the 32-year-old Spaniard did not disappoint the home crowd with her performance.
The question about who would make the podium seemed to take barely three minutes to be answered, for it was then that Portugal’s Monica Rosa, Domínguez and Hungary’s Aniko Kalovics started to rule and no-one else dared to remain in close attendance to the pace the Portuguese set.
It was with the clock reading 7:45 that Kalovics pushed really hard and around 200m later Rosa started to fade with only Domínguez able to stay at the Hungarian’s shoulder. Kalovics, who had declared on the eve that she was eager to prove herself after her non-podium finish in Toro at last Sunday’s Europeans, tried to shake off Domínguez but to no avail.
Before entering the last kilometre Portugal’s Ines Monteiro passed a tired Rosa while the leading duo arrived for the final run to the line.
Much to the delight of the crowd a sprint would decide the victor and on that basis Domínguez took advantage of her track speed – she is a former European Junior 1500m champion and holds an impressive 8:28.80 3000m PB – to overtake easily Kalovics in the later stages.
Monteiro completed the podium some 17 seconds behind the winner.
A happy Domínguez declared: “After so many appearances here I have managed the win at last; that’s wonderful for me as people in Venta de Baños has always supported and I hadn’t been able to repay them until now.”
“Today’s victory has not been comfortable but I was confident of my final burst of speed as I was in Toro. I’m only targeting the Beijing Olympics for next year but I’m still in doubt whether contesting the 5000m or the 10,000 event. My next outing will be at the ‘San Silvestre Vallecana’ (10km road race held in Madrid on New Year’s Eve, 31 December).”
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF
1. Tadesse Tola (Eth) 30:39
2. Eshetu Wondimu (Eth) 30:40
3. Michael Kipyego (Ken) 30:44
4. Bernard Kiprop Kipyego (Ken) 30:46
5. Ali Abdallah (Eri) 30:59
6. Chema Martínez (Esp) 31:01
7. Ayad Lamdassem (Esp) 31:12
8. Jesús España (Esp) 31:23
9. Juan Carlos de la Ossa (Esp) 31:30
10. Mohamed Elbendir (Esp) 33:07
1. Marta Domínguez (Esp) 20:56
2. Aniko Kalovics (Hun) 20:57
3. Ines Monteiro (Por) 21:13
4. Monica Rosa (Por) 21:21
5. Alesandra Aguilar (Esp) 21:25
6. Iris Fuentes-Pila (Esp) 21:40
7. Sonia Bejarano (Esp) 21:42
8. Irene Pelayo (Esp) 21:51
9. Bouchra Chaabi (Mor) 21:58
10. María Abel (Esp) 22:05