Kenya cemented its name in Africa Cross Country Championship’s history on Sunday when it swept all the medals on offer in the inaugural event which was held in Cape Town, South Africa.
Like it was in Bydgoszcz, Poland, where the country scooped the entire eight gold medals, Kenya went a gear up Down South, bagging everything in a competition that attracted some 18 countries.
It was the best stage for Mercy Cherono to prove her critics wrong after they accused her of punching above her weight since she graduated to the senior ranks.
The World Cross Country 6km champion added yet another gem to her illustrious crown when she won the senior women’s 8km race in 27 minutes 13 seconds ahead of compatriots Viola Kibiwott (27:14) and Doris Chengeiywo (27:22).
Cherono’s victory came after she failed to get a place in the World Cross team that heads to Spain next week following her 13th-place finish in the national trials.
Claimed all the top six places
Pauline Njeri (27:23) and Iness Chenonge (27:43) followed, with the first non-Kenyan being Lakwod Lipsang (28.29) of Morocco in sixth.
Team captain John Mwangangi, the Africa Junior 5,000m silver medallist, claimed the senior men’s gold medal in a fast 35:31 to consign Stephen Kiprotich (35:34) and Henry Chirchir (35:35) to silver and bronze.
Felix Kiprono (35:39) was fourth, followed by South Africans Sigosi Chesonane (36:32) and Stephen Mukoka (36:49). There was no other junior man or woman in the 6km and 8km race as Kenya claimed all the top six places.
Caroline Chepkoech (19:59) sent a message of intent to her elder sister Cherono when she bagged the junior women’s 6km gold. Mary Mananu took silver in 20:00 while bronze went to Zipporah Wanjiru (20:05).
They were followed by Jepchirchir Cheruiyot (20:09), Alice Aprot (20:12) and Norah Cherop (20:53).
Made amends with victory
World Cross junior men’s 8km bronze medallist Japheth Korir made amends for his failure to make the team to Spain with gold in his speciality.
He clocked 23:03 as Patrick Muaka (23:04) and Nicholas Togom (23:18) picked the silver and bronze, respectively.
Gideon Kipketer (23:19), Dennis Kipruto (23:21) and Edwin Mokua (23:28) streamed in to fill up the fourth, fifth and sixth place, respectively. The triumphant team returns on Monday afternoon.