NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24- Geoffrey Kamworor lived up to his pre-match confidence, showing he is on his way to becoming a road-running legend with his third consecutive World Half Marathon victory in Valencia, Spain on Saturday evening.
Kamworor who took charge of the race from gun to tape clocked 1:00:02 to win his third consecutive World title over 21km.
Elsewhere, World Record holder Joycilline Jepkosgei led compatriot Pauline Kaveke to silver and bronze as Ethiopia’s Netsanet Kebede won the title in a new women’s only record of 1:06:11.
However, Kenya lost the men’s team title with Ethiopia taking pole after their athletes finished in cumulative better positions than Kenyans.
Also, the women’s team title went to Ethiopia with Kenya having been hit with a numerical disadvantage after Mary Wacera and Fancy Chemutai pulled out pre-race.
Leonard Barsoton was Kenya’s next best finisher after Kamworor, finishing a distant 12th with Barselio Kipyego 15th, Jorum Okombo 18th while Alex Oloitiptip did not finish.
Just like he did in Cardiff two years ago, Kamworor took control of the race from early on and started pulling away from the chasing mark after the 15km mark to carry with him a 70-metre lead.
The men had crossed the 10km mark in 29:28 with a group of six at the front, lead by Turkey’s Kaan Kigen Ozbilen and Kamworor.
After he pulled out from the pack, there was no looking back as the Kenyan blazed to the finish line with Kenyan-turned Bahraini Abraham Cheroben finishing second in 1:00:22 while Eritrea’s Aron Kifle took bronze in a time of 1:00:31.
In the women’s race, world record holder Jepkosgei seemed to have started well controlling the tempo, but failed to hold on to the pace with Ethiopia’s Kebede steaming away.
“The wind was too strong for me today. I am very happy with my second place,” Jepkosgei said after the race.
Jepkosgei led the pack to a 15:39 split in the first five kilometres as the race seemed to be well within world record pace, the leading pack whittling down to five.
With the record holder seeming to stride down, Kebede took the cue and pumped the pace, running alone at the front, extending her lead with each stride. She reached 15km in 47:30, four seconds ahead of Kaveke.
Kebede did not look back and went on to smash Lornah Kiplagat’s record, winning the first individual medal for Ethiopia since 2012 when Meseret Hailu led an Ethiopian 1-2 finish.
Jepkosgei clocked 1:06:54 while Kaveke finished the race in a new Personal best time of 1:06:56.