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Bronze for Kenya as dazzling Ayana leads Ethiopian 1-2

Almaz Ayana celebrates with the Ethiopian flag after winning the 10,000m gold at the London IAAF World Championships on August 5, 2017. PHOTO/IAAF

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 5- Agnes Tirop, the 2015 World Cross Country champion picked up bronze as Olympic Champion and World Record holder Almaz Ayana produced yet another dazzling run to lead a 1-2 Ethiopian finish in the women’s 10,000m at the IAAF London World Championships on Saturday.

Just like she did in Rio, Ayana who has not raced this season tore the field apart, moving away from the pack with as many as 16 laps left on the field and she sustained the tempo, lapping fellow athletes on her way to the gold medal.

She crossed the finish line in 30:16.33. Her winning margin of 46.37 was by far the biggest in championship history.

Three-time champion Tirunesh Dibaba showed signs of her trademark devastating kick, pulling away from the Kenyan duo of Tirop and African 10,000m champion Alice Aprot to pick silver.

“I am very happy to win this title, much more than when I won the Olympic gold because I have been sick this year and didn’t expect it,” said Ayana.

“In fact, this was my first race of 2017.”

Dibaba was far from disappointed with her silver as she has been focussing on road racing.

“I have won many gold medals before but since I became a marathon runner, I only returned to the track for this race,” she said.

“I knew that Almaz was going to run very fast, so if I had followed her, I wouldn’t have won a medal.

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“I know my capacity these days because my training for this race was very short,” added the 32-year-old.

Dibaba clocked a season best time of 31:02.69 while Tirop benefited from the blistering pace to set her lifetime best of 31:03.50.

Aprot finished fourth in a season’s best time of 31:11.86 while Cheptai faded away to finish seventh behind Susan Krumins of the Netherlands and the bronze medalist from Beijing, USA’s Emily Infeld.

After pulling off from the crowd same way she did in Rio de Janeiro last year, it was a race between Ayana and the clock.

The chasing duties were left to the Kenyan trio of Aprot, Tirop and reigning World Cross Country Champion Irene Cheptai as well as Dibaba and Kenyan-turned Turk Yasemin Can. The Turk could however not sustain the tempo and she soon dropped out.

Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana (L) embraces her compatriotTirunesh Dibaba after the final of the women’s 10,000m on August 5, 2017

The three Kenyans stuck together running side by side with Dibaba lurking just beside them, waiting for the opportune time to strike with her finishing kick.

With two laps to go and Ayana enjoying a lead of close to 300m, it was a race for silver and bronze between Kenya and Ethiopia. Cheptai dropped off at the bell leaving Tirop and Aprot to battle Dibaba but at the home straight, the three-time champion bolted off.

Tirop dug deep into her energy reserves in a bid to wrestle for the silver medal, but there was no stopping Dibaba who was focused on stepping on the podium for the fourth time in the 10,000m in her World Championship career.

Kenya has now failed to defend one of the titles that led her to being crowned the world’s best in Beijing two years back with Vivian Cheruiyot, now a road runner having won the race ahead of Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka and USA’s Emily Infeld.

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