Athletics News

World Junior XC — Kenya Men, Ethiopia Women

World Junior XC — Kenya Men, Ethiopia Women

Fifteen-year-old Marta Alemayo covered the third loop of the women’s race 4 seconds faster than anyone else to lead Ethiopia’s team win. (MIKE SCOTT)

BELGRADE, SERBIA, March 30 — Kenyan hopes to unseat the Ethiopian U20 women took a big hit when two of the squad were denied visas by the hosts. Diana Chepkemoi finished 8th last year and Nancy Cherop reportedly is the same woman who won 3000 bronze at track’s World Juniors in ’22.

Whether that turn of events helped Ethiopia to a medal sweep and team victory is open to debate. In any case, it was 15-year-old Marta Alemayo who stunned the field with a powerful finish to win in 19:28 over the 6251m (3.88M) course. Asayech Ayichew followed in 19:32 and Robe Dida in 19:38.

Sheila Kibet, the winner of the Kenyan Trials, placed 4th in 19:45. Ethiopia won the team title with 12 points, ahead of the 28 for Kenya and 48 for Uganda. The U.S. was once again led by Ellie Shea, who placed 15th in 20:50, with Allie Zealand next across in 21:08. The squad finished 4th with 88 points.

Said Alemayo, who had finished 4th in the Ethiopian Trials, “I was expecting to do well, and I am not surprised with the win. The win is not important only in itself, but it will also help set up the rest of my career.”

The U20 men’s race came down to a sprint finish, with Kenya’s Samuel Kibathi coming home fastest to take the 1-second win in 22:40 on the 8138m (5.05M) route, just ahead of Ethiopian Mezgebu Sime (22:41). The bronze went to Kenyan Matthew Kipkoech, who ran 22:46.

Kenya took the win with 15 points, Ethiopia was 2nd at 21 and Uganda 3rd at 52. The United States, led by Kevin Sanchez’s 24th place in 24:31, finished 7th with 153.

Japan-based Kibathi, a 13:23.76 track performer at 5000, said, “It was my first world championships, so it means a lot to me to win here. The pace was very fast and it almost ruined my plans for this race. I had planned to stay behind and attack at the finish. It was so tough and so hard, I feel exhausted now. But it means a lot to me, I wanted this so much so I was really pushing fast towards the finish.”


Teams: 1. Kenya 15; 2. Ethiopia 21; 3. Uganda 52; 4. Japan 77; 5. South Africa 114; 6. Morocco 114; 7. United States 153; 8. Spain 159; 9. Australia 166; 10. Great Britain 175; 11. France 180; 12. New Zealand 234; 13. Canada 264; 14. Serbia 299.

Individuals (8138m): 1. Samuel Kibathi (Ken) 22:40; 2. Mezgebu Sime (Eth) 22:41; 3. Matthew Kipkoech (Ken) 22:46; 4. Yismaw Dilu (Eth) 22:48;…

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