NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 27 – After coming from behind to retain the IAAF World Cross Country title in Kampala, Geoffrey Kamworor described the senior 10km men’s race as a ‘suicide pace’ after Ugandan Joshua Kiprui nearly upset him at the Kololo Independence Ground on Sunday.
Kiprui had opened a 100m gap heading to the last lap but the tough course could not allow him to write history for Ugandans as Kamworor switched on the after burners with about 400m to the finish line and go all the way to the tape.
However, the 24-year-old revealed that it was not a walk in the park noting that Kiplimo had set the pace faster which was difficult to deal with due to the scorching sun.
“Whenever I met anyone I was always tell him I am going to come with gold from Uganda. I always reminded them that I am the defending champion and I am going to retain it,” Kamworor said.
“From my feeling I felt it was a ‘suicide pace’ and I knew it might destroy us. If he had gone with that pace to the finish line, it could have been a mess so when I came close to him I gained momentum and when I overtook him I gained a new energy which managed me to come to the finish line,” the World Half Marathon champion revealed.
Team captain Leonard Komon echoed Kamworor’s sentiments, outlining that the weather too played a key role in him finishing 13th.
“The team did well because it all went as we planned. When Joshua (Kiprui) was leading we were afraid but we knew he cannot go anywhere because we were well prepared. The climate was not conducive,” Komon stated.
“Our plan was to save the energy for the last lap, you see the way he (Kamworor) was running he was relaxed and could close the gap. We planned after realizing the junior lost their medals because of starting with a faster pace and the sun was too much, so our strategy was to hold back and then let out in the last 2km,” he added.
“Uganda was prepared to tackle us and we noticed that when the junior men were running he (Jacob Kiplimo, winner U20) held them back and killed it in the last gap.”
Leonard Barsoton, who won the national cross country, thanked his team-mates for showing a brave fight, dedicating his silver medal to his wife.
“In the last 1km I was telling God to give me energy because it wasn’t easy. I won here the Africa Cross Country Championships in 2014 and I was expecting a good performance. My dream is to win the World Cross Country one day,” Barsoton stated.
“When the Ugandan opened a big gap we were worried that he might keep going but we never gave up but he distracted our plan because we wanted to win the team title too. We knew with that pace there is no way a person could finish and that’s what kept Kamworor moving and we realized he does not move anymore,” Barsoton asserted.
“I dedicate the silver medal to my wife because she told me I was going to win gold. In 2014 he told me the same and I won.”
Both Kamworor and Barsoton will now be turning attention to track as they have expressed interest in competing the men’s 10,000m at the August IAAF World Championships in London.
The team arrived into the country on Monday evening from Kampala’s International Airport.k