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Kenya storm the Cape

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 7-Kenya conquered Cape Town in spectacular fashion on Sunday when the nation's runners won all available individual and team honours on offer at the Africa Cross Country Championships in South Africa.

In a competition that featured 18 nations, the Kenyans turned the continental showdown into a domestic internal contest as they filled all top positions unchallenged, with siblings World Cross junior champion, Mercy Cherono and Caroline Chepkoech going down in history as the first sister act to strike gold at the same event for their country.  

Chepkoech set-off the gold rush when she led five of her team mates to take the top six positions in junior women 6km race as she came of better from a flying finish to the race in 19:59, a second ahead of compatriot Mary Munanu (20:00).

Zipporah Wanjiru (20:05) came home for bronze with team mates Jepchirchir Cheruto (20:09), Alice Aprot (20:12) and Norah Cheruto (20:53) completing the top six shut-out.

A similar finale was witnessed in the corresponding 8km men’s race where Japheth Korir, a bronze winner from Poland, atoned for missing the World Cross by denying Patrick Muaka the gold with the clocks reading 23:03 against 23:04.

Nicholas Togom (23:18), younger brother to Punta Umbria World Cross team member, Matthew Kisorio came home for the third medal as the remaining Kenyans in the race, Gideon Kipketer (23:19), Denis Kipruto (23:21) and Edwin Mokua (23:28) romped home in that order.

Cherono held-off the stiff challenge of veteran Viola Kibiwott to take the senior women gold in another riveting conclusion to the senior women’s 8km race as the junior starlet made the dream introduction to her senior career.

Again, the winning margin was a second (27:13 against 27:14) where Doris Changeiywo, a World Cross veteran who was fourth in Edinburgh 2008, took bronze (27:22) with Pauline Njeri (27:22) and Commonwealth 5000m silver winner, Iness Chenonge (27:43) breasting the tape to seal the top five. Morocco’s Lakwod Lipsang (28:29) was sixth in the race where Kenya entered the five.

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Mwangangi, a Kenya Prisons officer struck his first gold for his nation when he tore away from his teammates to complete the course in 35:31. Stephen Kiprotich crossed the line in 35:34 to edge Henry Chirchir (35:35) in the race for silver as Felix Kipruto (35:39) made sure Kenya scored the perfect ten in fourth. South African pair, Sigosi Chisonane (36:32) and Stephen Mukoka (36:49) took the next two positions. Kenya fielded only the four.

Archrivals Ethiopia failed to travel for the event after a visa hitch saw them holed up in Nairobi while Uganda, Sudan and Morocco were among other pedigree nations that took part.

“The performance was so great and it is an indication we are going to well in Spain. The obstacles made the course very tough but our boys and girls had good training,” Athletics Kenya (AK) general secretary, David Okeyo, said from South Africa.
1. Caroline Chepkoech 19:59
2. Mary Munanu            20:00
3. Zipporah Wanjiru      20:05
4. Jepchirchir Cheruto   20:09
5. Alice Aprot                20:12
6. Norah Cheruto                    20:53
1. Japheth Korir            23:03
2. Patrick Muaka           23:04
4. Nicholas Togom                  23:18
4. Gideon Kipketer                  23:19
5. Denis Kipruto            23:21
6. Edwin Mokua            23:28
1. Mercy Cherono                   27:13
2. Viola Kibiwott           27:14
3. Doris Changeiywo     27:22
4. Pauline Njeri              27:22
5. Iness Chenonge                   27:43
6. Lakwod Lipsang (MAR) 28:29
1. John Mwangangi       35:31
2. Stephen Kiprotich     35:34
3. Henry Chirchir           35:35
4. Felix Kipruto             35:39
5. Sigosi Chisonane (RSA) 36:32
6. Stephen Mukoka (RSA) 36:49

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