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Impressive Chebet clinches 2nd World Cross title in Serbia

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Chebet
BELGRADE, SERBIA - MARCH 30: Beatrice Chebet of Kenya celebrates with the national flag after winning in the Senior Women's Final during the World Athletics Cross Country finals Championships at The Park of Friendship on March 30, 2024 in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images for World Athletics)
  • Chebet became the first woman to win back to back titles in 18 years
  • Kenya swept the first five positions in the women’s race
  • Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo also defended his title

Beatrice Chebet put up a dominant show as she successfully defended her World Cross Country Championship title, with an impressive performance in Belgrade, Serbia. Chebet, who is also the 5km World Champion, became the first person to clinch back to back titles since Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba back in 2006.

It was an impressive day for Kenya in Serbia, as Chebet led not just a podium sweep, but a sweep of the top five positions in the senior women’s race.

She won the race in 31:05, with Lilian Kasait finishing second for silver in 31:08, while Margaret Chelimo won bronze in 31:09.

Emmaculate Anyango was fourth, while Agnes Jebet, who clinched bronze at the last Championships in Australia last year was fifth.

Speaking to World Athletics website after the race, Chebet credited the great performance to the perfect weather, which was similar to Kenya, and great teamwork.

“We won the team title, that showed very strong teamwork,” said Chebet. “After trials we trained together, we eat the same food. We were a team and being together helped us achieve the best result here.

“It is not easy to come to a world championship and defend your title, there is a lot of pressure. My target was to be on the podium. I felt I was stronger with about 500m to go. The course was so good, the weather was good like in Kenya, very sunny, and the obstacles were not as hard.”

As expected, the talented Kenyan team of Jebet, Anyango, Chebet, Kasait and Chelimo were at the front from take-off in the 10km senior women’s race, taking the rest of the field through the first lap in 6:30.

Chebet maintains cruise control in the race 

Chebet

Beatrice Chebet storms to victory. PHOTO/World Athletics

They picked up the pace in the second lap, covered in 5:56, again running as a team with Uganda’s Joy Cheptoyek and USA’s Weini Kelati Frezghi in the mix. Surprisingly, the Ethiopian athletes tucked in behind the Kenyan and Ugandan runners.

During the second lap, Kazakhstan’s Daisy Jepkemei led for a few seconds, only for the Kenyan quintet to take over again, running side by side.

The calibre and brilliance of the Kenyan senior women was undeniable. Two of the athletes – Ngetich and Anyango – are the fastest in history at 10km, and Chebet was defending her world cross country title. For a moment it looked like a Kenyan national cross country championship – only the positions changed at the end in Belgrade.

With an increased pace during the second lap, the group reduced with only seven athletes remaining for the medals chase – including the five Kenyans.

The fourth lap was 5:57, with Ngetich, Anyango, Kasait, Chebet and Chelimo to the fore. Uganda’s Sarah Chelangat was brave enough to trail the Kenyans but she could not keep up. Jepkemei was a distance back.

Chebet make decisive run late on 

Chebet

Team Kenya celebrate in Serbia. PHOTO/World Athletics

The gap grew on the third lap, the group led by Ngetich who was running side by side with Anyango and Chebet. They lapped an athlete and then another and two more. The fourth lap was an all-Kenyan affair, and they lapped two more athletes. At this point it was clear it was going to be a Kenyan win but it was hard to pick the winner as the race entered the home stretch.

The leaders powered on and pushed, but none of them were willing to go, running side by side. Eventually, Anyango was the first to drop back. Rengeruk, Chebet and Kipkemboi went over the last hill, and Ngetich dropped back. It was down to Chebet, Rengeruk and Kipkemboi.

With around 400m to go, Chebet made the decisive move to sprint to the finish line and retain her title. Rengeruk got silver and Kipkemboi an unexpected bronze.

Meanwhile in the men’s race, Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo clocked 28:09 to defend his title, with Kenya managing a bronze medal courtesy of Benson Kiplangat who timed 28:14.

Additional reporting from World Athletics

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