SARDINIA, Italy, March 28- World and Commonwealth 5000m women silver winner, Sylvia Kibet, who failed to fire at the Punta Umbria World Cross, narrowly won the 5.5km race in the traditional cross season ending Cross of Ala dei Sardi in Italy.
In the corresponding men’s 11km men’s race, freshly minted World Cross senior men 12km gold medallist, Ethiopian Imane Merga barely edged Caleb Mwangangi, the deposed World Cross junior titleholder, to the tape.
Kibet, who was 13th in the senior women in Spain a week ago, took a narrow victory on former World Junior silver medallist Sule Utura of Ethiopia. Both runners crossed the finish-line sharing the same time of 18:02 in the 5.5km women’s race after a close and exciting race.
Last year’s World Cross women 6km and World Juniors 3000m gold winner, Mercy Cherono, who recently won the senior women 12km title at the Africa Cross Country Championships in Cape Town, South Africa finished third in 18:05.
In the men’s race, it was not a stroll in the pack for 5000m Diamond Race winner Merga who managed to hold off Ndiku by three seconds and Punta Umbria’s World silver medallist Paul Tanui by a further second in a close finish. Again the young Ethiopian star showed his trademark final kick which enabled him to lift his first World cross country title.
Merga romped home in 32:11 to take the men’s 11km race ahead of Ndiku who crossed the finish-line in 32:14. “My goal is to win the 10,000m in Daegu. My first 5000m race on the track is scheduled on 29 May in Hengelo,” Merga told IAAF.
The famous Sardinian race which attracts many Ethiopian and Kenyan World and Olympic medallists every year was held for the first time 35 years ago under the initiative of local passionate organizer Antonello Baltolu. Merga and Kibet added their names to the list of winners who have made the history of the Trofeo Alasport.
Men’s race (11 km):
1 Imane Merga (Kenya) 32:11
2 Caleb Ndiku (Kenya) 32:14
3 Paul Tanui (Kenya) 32:15
4 John Kipchoech (Kenya) 32:20
5 John Koech (Kenya) 33:34
6 Daniele Meucci (Italy) 34:01
7 Peter Bii (Kenya) 34:30
8 Stefano La Rosa (Italy) 34:32
9 Paul Koech (Kenya) 34:37
10 Gianmarco Buttazzo (Italy) 34:52
Women’s race (5.5 km):
1 Sylvia Kibet (Kenya) 18:02
2 Sule Utura Gedo (Ethiopia) 18:02
3 Mercy Cherono (Kenya) 18:05
4 Nadja Ejjafini (Italy) 18:33
5 Siham Hilali (Morocco) 19:02
6 Claudette Mukasakindi (Randa) 19:10
7 Laila Soufiane (Italy) 19:12
8 Angelina Nyrasmbimana (Randa) 19:18