Just like in the previous two editions in 2011 and 2012, and its one-off ancestor in 1985, Kenyan made a clean sweep of all the titles at the 3rd African Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda, on Sunday (16).
In the senior men’s 12km, all the Kenyan runners needed was a burst of concerted speed to shake off the spirited challenge from Ethiopia and hosts Uganda with world junior cross-country silver medallist Leonard Barsoton winning 34:27
Kenya produced a perfect 1-2-3-4-5 finish with Uganda’s Moses Kibet being the best of the rest in sixth place.
“It was basically team work which we employed to do our country proud," said Barsoton. "The competition was tough though because we were facing the best rival countries in the world, who also come from Africa. My next target is the Glasgow Commonwealth Games."
Reigning world junior cross-country champion Faith Kipyegon worked hard over the last two laps of the 8km senior women’s circuit to move away from her compatriots and win in 25:34.
She was followed home by Janet Kisa, eight seconds in arrears, and Alice Aprot was another six seconds further back to take the bronze medal as Kenya easily retained their team title.
“I was never worried about winning the race even as Ethiopians and Ugandans tracked me closely for the last half of the race. I knew that I have the ability to hold off any challenge at the finish,” reflected Kipyegon.
The junior men’s 8km race saw Eritrea get their only individual medal at the championships as Afewerki Berhane came through to take the bronze medal.
But the Kenyans again proved to be too strong for any of their rivals and African junior 5000m champion Moses Mukono won his second continental title in 22:37, with his team-mate Andrew Lorot taking the silver medal 14 seconds behind.
“Our basic plan was to run and win as a team although Eritrea spoilt our soup by grabbing a bronze," said Letoyie. "In the last four kilometres, we (Letoyie and Lorot) were on our own. It was then about who had the better finishing sprint. We are happy to take gold and silver.”
The best non-Kenyan individual performance in Kampala came in the first race of the day, the junior women's 6km, as Alemitu Heroye, who has already got second place in two big Spanish races this winter, finished second. However, the honours went to world junior cross-country silver medallist Agnes Tirop, who won comfortably over the 6km course in 18:51, with Heroye 14 seconds behind.
With Kenyan runners coming home third, fourth and fifth, it was another clear-cut Kenyan team win.
"It was relatively competitive but I managed to contain the opposition," said Tirop modestly.
Namayo Mawerere and Daniel Senfuma for IAAF
Senior men’s 12km
1 Leonard Barsoton (KEN) 34:27
2 Cornelius Kangogo (KEN) 34:57
3 Philemon Rono (KEN) 35:02
4 Solomon Kirwa (KEN) 35:15
5 Phillip Kiprono Langat (KEN) 35:21
6 Moses Kibet (UGA) 35:26
Junior men’s 8km
1 Moses Mukono (KEN) 22:37
2 Andrew Lorot (KEN) 22:51
3 Afewerki Berhane (ERI) 22:57
4 John Kiprono Langat (KEN) 22:59
5 Hilary Langat Kipkemboi (KEN) 23:02
6 Emmanuel Kiprono Bett (KEN) 23:12
Senior women’s 8km
1 Faith Kipyegon (KEN) 25:34
2 Janet Kisa (KEN) 25:42
3 Alice Aprot (KEN) 25:47
4 Edith Chelimo (KEN) 26:03
5 Alemu Tadelech Bekele (ETH) 26:11
6 Yeshaneh Ababel (ETH) 26:15
Junior women’s 6km
1 Agnes Tirop (KEN) 18:51
2 Alemitu Heroye (ETH) 19:05
3 Nancy Nzisa (KEN) 19:17
4 Rosefine Chepngetich (KEN) 19:40
5 Lilian Kasait Rengeruk (KEN) 19:51
6 Alemitu Hawi (ETH) 19:56