Athletics News

Kiplimo confirms he’s the king of cross country

Kiplimo confirms he’s the king of cross country

Ugandan successfully defends senior men’s crown in Belgrade as Will Barnicoat is best of the Brits in 27th

Jacob Kiplimo handled the heat with ease, negotiated the hay maze in style and took the man-made blue ‘hills’ in his stride as he stormed to another world cross-country men’s title in Belgrade on Saturday (March 30).

The Ugandan had too much pace for his rivals in the closing stages of a gruelling 10km race. At the finishing area the athletes were caked in mud and dripping with sweat. Some sought sanctuary in the nearby first aid tent. But Kiplimo, who clocked 28:09, looked like he could have gone around again.

The Ugandan joins an exclusive club of athletes who have won back-to-back men’s titles at the World Cross – namely Kenenisa Bekele, Geoffrey Kamworor and Paul Tergat.

Runner-up on Saturday was Berihu Aregawi of Ethiopia – three seconds behind the winner and perhaps his day will come in future – as Benson Kiplangat earned a surprise bronze and led Kenya to team gold.

Jacob Kiplimo (Getty)

Nicholas Kipkoror and Samwel Masai of Kenya were fourth and fifth as one of the big favourites and former champions, Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, was a relatively well beaten sixth with Sabastian Sawe of Kenya seventh.

Chimdessa Debele had a spell at the front in the early stages but the Ethiopian faded to 16th, while Gideon Rono of Kenya then moved into a small lead mid-race before dropping back to ultimately finish eighth.

It was a day when slow starters were rewarded and over-eager runners were punished. Kiplimo’s move came with around a mile to go as he sped away to gold, even having time to showboat a little in the closing strides.

“The course was fine, a little challenging with the obstacles,” Kiplimo said. “It was a little tough running in the heat, but that wasn’t a major issue.

“I was hungry for medals after missing Budapest last year. I was in good shape, but then the injury happened and I had to get treatment, but I am back now.

“My goal this year is to do what Cheptegei did and win an Olympic gold. My main focus is the 10,000m, but I’m not sure yet if I want to double.”

Will Barnicoat, the European under-23 champion, was the leading Brit in 27th and he was pretty pleased with his run. “Tactically, I ran that as one of the best races in my lifetime,” he said.

“I’m off to Font Romeu now for a block of hard training and then back on the track,” he added, with ambitions to qualify for the 5000m at the…

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