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Copenhagen heroes eye more glory

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KIPSANG-COPENHAGENNAIROBI, Kenya, March 30 – Twice, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor has arrived at a world championships without much fuss only to leave as the champion, mugging more illustrious opponents in the process.

If everyone forgot about his emphatic victory at the 2011 World Cross in Punta Umbria when he arrived late and unheralded before obliterating a quality field in the most dominant performance in a decade, then no one will forget how the 22-year-old mowed down the record five-time World Half Marathon title holder, Zersenay Tadese, to end his dynasty on Saturday in the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark.

In what was a day to behold for Kenya, World Championships women 10,000m silver winner, Gladys Cherono, had earlier led her compatriots to complete the historic sweep of the top-five positions as the country underlined its dominance with four individual medals, two gold, a silver and bronze in addition to women team gold and men team silver.

On Monday, the triumphant squad was hosted to a reception by Athletics Kenya (AK) in Nairobi where Kipsang and Cherono re-lived their finest hour, beaming from year to year having arrived back home on Sunday night from conquering Copenhagen.

Besides Tadese the record holder over the distance compatriot Wilson Kiprop, the 2010 titleholder, also fell to the furious running uncorked by Kamworor who stopped the clock at a world 59:07 by the time he was done.

And he is not done. Speaking on Monday, the Kenya Police athlete underlined his intention to attack and slash his lifetime best in the marathon of 2:06:12 on September 28 at Berlin Marathon when he lines at the race he has finished third in successive years.

“I’m now targeting for two major honours. One is to break the World Half Marathon in 2016. I know it’s possible, I only need to prepare well and create a lot of time in training. If I get good pace makers who will lead me through half way then it will be achievable since I have a good kick,” he explained.

“I will be using the Commonwealth Games trials to gauge my speed as I prepare to beat my personal best in Berlin ,” he added.

On his moment of glory, the World Half titleholder revealed he sacrificed team title ambitions to bar Tadese from clinching his unprecedented sixth crown as Kenya surrendered that honour to Eritrea who won it for the first time in seven attempts.

“I’m very a happy to win this major title especially after running with very experience people like Tadese who I knew would give us stiff competition. We entered with a plan that worked although we did not win the men’s team title since our aim was to shut Tadese away and make sure he doesn’t win his sixth title.

“I knew he is a front runner like me so we agreed to run as a team and made sure he doesn’t open the gap as all of us ran around him. It really worked because he burned out alongside my team mates and with 15 kilometers left I decided to take on the race.

“It was tough since five Eritrean were still on my neck but I managed to use my kick which I’m good at to win the race,” Kipsang described.

Samuel Tsegay, who won the battle with Ethiopia’s Guye Adola to take silver in a personal best of 59:21 shared the podium with the winner.

Cherono, the double African champion over 10,000m and 5,000m will now turn her attention to the Commonwealth Games where she aims to go for the gold.

“The race was good since it was a flat course and I’m proud with what we achieved because everybody was in good shape something that enabled us work as a team.

“I want to appreciate our coach Edith Masai, who inspired us to this victory as she told us to communicate with each other while running and that’s why we won the team title and individual gold,” she told in appreciation of the retired three-time World Cross champion who was placed in charge of the Copenhagen squad by AK.

“I was expecting to be in the medal bracket but winning gold was a surprise package for me. We ran up to 18 kilometers and when I looked back my colleagues were no longer strong, I decided to open the gap since I had energy,” the 30 years old who recorded her season best of 1:07:28 for victory added.

Mary Wacera Ngugi (1:07:43 PB) and Sally Chepyego Kaptich (1:07:51 PB) took the lesser medals as pre-race favourite and number six runner of all-time, Lucy Wangui Kabuu (1:08:36 SB) and Mercy Jerotich Kibarus (1:08:41 SB) completed the top five.

She added, “I’m now focusing on training my speed work for Commonwealth since running on the track needs a lot of speed compared to marathon.”

AK rewarded the four male athletes (Kenneth Kipkemoi, Simon Cheprot, Robert Chemosin and Wilson Kiprop) who finished outside the money bracket with Sh103,859.96 (USD 1,200) to motivate then for their efforts.

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