Monday, January 16, 2012

Masai turns tables on Vivian

Kenya’s Linet Masai runs on her way to winning the 30th International Italica Cross-Country in Sevilla, Spain, on Sunday. Photo/AFP

Kenya’s Linet Masai runs on her way to winning the 30th International Italica Cross-Country in Sevilla, Spain, on Sunday. Photo/AFP 

By AYUMBA AYODI and IAAF

Linet Masai mastered her act well this time around to claim sweet revenge over reigning world cross country champion Vivian Cheruiyot in a classy showdown at the Cross Internacional de Itálica in Spain on Sunday.

Consequently, world cross country junior winner Geoffrey Kipsang staged a gun-to-tape show, orchestrating another Kenyan 1-2 sweep with Albert Rop in a men’s race held under a surprising rainy weather.

The women’s race that paired the duo that are arguably regarded world’s best female distance athletes was a reminiscent of the 2011 World Cross Country Championships where Cheruiyot beat Masai to the gold.

They also were the last victors in the event, Masai in 2010 with Cheruiyot turning the table last year before Masai had another laugh last weekend.

Cheruiyot outclassed Masai to victory in the 10,000 metres, her second title after the 5,000m feat at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.

Masai won bronze. It was Masai’s second victory on the international cross country season after her victory at the Atapuerca permit on November 13 in Spain. “I felt very comfortable throughout,” the long-legged Masai said.

“I began conservatively but then decided to push hard as Vivian has beaten me several times over the closing metres.”

Masai clocked 25:42 followed by Cheruiyot 26:00 and the Ethiopian pair of Wude Ayalew (26:00) and Hiwot Ayalew (26:23).

The 2006 Fukuoka World Cross Country Championships’ junior champion Pauline Korikwiang (26:32, Kenya) came in fifth followed by the 2011 Africa Cross Country champion Mercy Cherono (26:40).

Kipsang cashed on the absence of reigning world cross country champion and silver medallist, Ethiopia’s Imane Merga and Kenya’s Paul Tanui to triumph in 30:53, beating Rop (30:57) and Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro (31:03).

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