NAIROBI, Kenya, October 6- Kenya won two individual bronze medals in addition to the men’s gold and women’s silver in the team competition as Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese entered history books with his fifth World Half Marathon title in Karvana, Bulgaria on Saturday.
In a supreme show of devastating front running, Tadese reclaimed the title he lost last year to Kenya’s Wilson Kiprop after arriving unchallenged to the tape in 1:00:09 to underline his supremacy in the 21km men’s race.
Competing in scorching conditions, Tadese deployed his famed charge from the gun to lead Ethiopia’s Deressa Chimsa and Kenya’s John Mwangangi to the podium as Kenya scooped her 24th men’s team title.
The world half marathon record holder who dethroned the late Beijing Olympics champion, Samuel Wanjiru from the top of the 21km perch was thus re-united with the title he won from 2006 to 2009 before Kiprop made him his bridesmaid two years ago.
Retired former world marathon record holder, Paul Tergat is next on the World Half all time list having won the individual crown in 1999 and 2000 to further underline Tadese’s astonishing achievement.
Former world 5000m world champion and Beijing Olympics silver winner, Eliud Kipchoge, capped his debut at the event with a commendable 1:01:52 for sixth after trailing compatriots Pius Maiyo Kirop (1:01:11), Stephen Kosgei Kibet (1:01:40) who occupied positions four and five.
There was heartbreak for debutant Pascalia Chepkorir after her charge from the start saw her lead through most of the race before she was mugged by Ethiopian pair of Meseret Hailu (1:08:55) and Feyse Tadese (1:08:56) who sprinted to the gold and silver in the corresponding women’s race.
In a thrilling finish, Hailu out-sprinted her teammate Tadese over the final 50 metres to score an upset victory in the women’s race as the pair led Ethiopia to a surprise victory in the women’s race over defending champions Kenya, with Japan taking team bronze.
It was only Ethiopia’s World Half women’s victory following Berhane Adele’s triumph in 2002 as their archrivals lost the crown emphatically won by Florence Kiplagat in Nanning, China two years ago.
Kenya were forced to accept team silver as veteran Lydia Cheromei (1:09:13), first timer Pauline Njeri (1:10:12), Daegu Worlds 10000m fourth finisher, Priscah Jepleting (1:13:55) and bronze medallist from Nanning, Peninah Arusei (1:15:55) came home in positions four, six, 21st and 30th.
The country had won the last five team top honours prior to Kavarna, Bulgaria.
Speaking to Capital Sport, Athletics Kenya (AK) chairman, Isaiah Kiplagat, termed the results satisfying.
“I congratulate them for their performance even though we were not able to defend the titles we won in China. Most of our top athletes at the distance are involved in the World Marathon Majors in Chicago and New York.
“We had six debutants at the event and based on that, we are pleased with what we have won,” he added.
The Bulgaria World Half capped a year of international competition where Kenya failed to spark following the humbling return from London Olympics and the loss of the overall Africa Championships title to Nigeria.
1 Meseret Hailu ETH 1:08:55 (PB)
2 Feyse Tadese ETH 1:08:56 (SB)
3 Paskalia Chepkorir KEN 1:09:04 .
4 Lydia Cheromei KEN 1:09:13 .
5 Emebt Etea ETH 1:10:01 (PB)
6 Pauline Njeri KEN 1:10:22 .
7 Gemma Steel GBR 1:11:09 (PB)
8 Tomomi Tanaka JPN 1:11:09 .
9 Mai Ito JPN 1:11:25 .
10 Caryl Jones GBR 1:11:52 (PB)
1 Zersenay Tadese ERI 1:00:19 .
2 Deressa Chimsa ETH 1:00:51 (PB)
3 John Nzau Mwangangi KEN 1:01:01 .
4 Pius Maiyo Kirop KEN 1:01:11 .
5 Stephen Kosgei Kibet KEN 1:01:40 .
6 Eliud Kipchoge KEN 1:01:52 .
7 Jackson Kiprop UGA 1:02:05 .
8 Stephen Mokoka RSA 1:02:06 .
9 Tewelde Estifanos ERI 1:02:10 (SB)
10 Kiflom Sium ERI 1:02:12 (SB)