NAIROBI, Kenya, March 28- Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor and Gladys Cherono gave Kenya the double delight by striking gold in the men and women races at Saturday’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Kipsang, the 2011 World Cross junior champion and twice third finisher at the Berlin Marathon uncorked a world leading 59:07 to win his second global honour in a performance that blew away a loaded field that included record five-time gold winner and record holder, Zersenay Tadese and compatriot Wilson Kiprop, the 2010 titleholder.
As further proof of his powerful charge to the tape, Kipsang led 14 of the top 20 finishers to achieve personal bests in what was a blistering race considering there were no pace makers.
Earlier, Cherono, the Worlds silver medallist in 10,000m and double African Champion in 5,000 and 10,000, added the World Half gold in a record setting display by the Kenyan women’s squad that cleaned up the top five places.
Cherono took off over the last two kilometres to breast the tape in 1:07:28 with recently minted Worlds Best 10K winner, Mary Wacera, enhancing her reputation with a career best 1:07:43 with Japan based Sally Chepyego Kaptich also being rewarded with a lifetime best of 1:07:51 for bronze.
Pre-race favourite and number six runner of all time, Lucy Kabuu, faded to fourth 1:08:36, a season best for fourth with Mercy Jerotich rounding off the jaw-dropping show of complete dominance by coming home in a year best 1:08:41 for fifth.
“The race was great; we worked as a team and I was not expecting to be number one today,” the stunned Cherono said after her crowning moment as Kenya wrapped up team gold in this event.
Although the medals were shared in the men’s race with Samuel Tsegay, who has never won an individual medal in the shadow of compatriot Tadese, scooping silver in a career best 59:20 ahead of Ethiopia’s Guye Tola who took bronze
in the fastest he has ever gone out over the distance, 59:20, Kipsang earned all the plaudits for taking down the star-studded cast a mature performance to behold.
Not given a look in the run-up to the event, all the attention focused on the re-match between Tadese and Kiprop, the Kenya Police runner hung to the lead before two devastating injections of pace first ended the challenge of the five-time champion who was bidding for a record sixth before the second with less than 2km secured his biggest career win thus far.
“The field was very competitive, that’s what I was pushing, pushing, pushing,” Kipsang told IAAF after the race with Eritrea, who had won seven successive team silvers taking the middle step of the podium on this occasion ahead of Kenya.
Kiprop, who shadow boxed with Tadese for most part of the race before Kipsang laid down the hammer, clocked an hour flat for sixth as his dreams of a second title collapsed in the face of the younger fleet footed compatriot who is only 21.
Kenya last secured the World Half double in 2010 when women’s world record holder, Florence Kiplagat and Kiprop soared to glory.
Although Tadese failed to medal individually, his legacy was cemented when anchored his nation to the team honours for his staggering 13th medal at the event.
The next edition will be held in Cardiff in 2016.
1 Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor KEN 59:07 WL
2 Samuel Tsegay ERI 59:20 PB
3 Guye Adola ETH 59:20 PB
4 Zersenay Tadese ERI 59:37 SB
5 Nguse Amlosom ERI 59:59
6 Wilson Kiprop KEN 1:00:00
7 Ghirmay Ghebreslassie ERI 1:00:09 SB
8 Samsom Gebreyohannes ERI 1:00:12 PB
9 Adugna Takele ETH 1:00:14 PB
10 Kenneth Kiprop Kipkemoi KEN 1:00:28 SB
1 Gladys Cherono KEN 1:07:28 SB
2 Mary Wacera Ngugi KEN 1:07:43 PB
3 Selly Chepyego Kaptich KEN 1:07:51 PB
4 Lucy Wangui Kabuu KEN 1:08:36 SB
5 Mercy Jerotich Kibarus KEN 1:08:41 SB
6 Netsanet Gudeta ETH 1:08:45 PB
7 Christelle Daunay FRA 1:08:47 SB
8 Valeria Straneo ITA 1:08:54 SB
9 Tsehay Desalegn ETH 1:09:03 PB
10 Genet Yalew ETH 1:09:14 PB