In dominant and dramatic finishes, Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo and Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet are the newly crowned men’s and women’s world cross-country champions in Bathurst, Australia.
The organizers added tires, mud and hills on the course to make the 2023 World Cross country challenging, but nature was apparently not impressed with that and added in gusts of wind for the senior men’s race and some warm weather in the women’s. All these conditions combined to create exciting and memorable championships to remember for a long time.
Women’s senior race, WXCbathurst23, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics
It turned into one of the most successful outings for Kenya as they bagged six gold medals to top the medal table ahead of Ethiopia, who placed second with two gold medals, and Uganda with one gold medal.
Letensebet Gidey fell with 30 meters to go, a coach and athlete tried to assist her, she is seen here seeming to refuse the help, photo by Steven Christo for World Athletics
Just like most of the Kenyan fans, Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet could have been so sure that she wasn’t going to win the gold medal in the last 100m of the race and was only pushing hard to secure her silver medal position. But, she saw Letesenbet Gidey suddenly begin to hobble and slow down considerably ahead of her before finally falling down some 20m to the finishing tape. Chebet strode past to win the gold medal in 33:48. Tsigile Gebreselama also ran past her struggling teammate to finish second in 33:56 before Kenya’s Agnes Jebet came to finish third in 34:00. An official went and helped Gidey stand up. She walked past the finish line to finish fourth in 34:10.
Beatrice Chebet takes World XC, photo by Steven Christo for World Athletics
It was not until the fourth lap of the women’s senior race that the three Kenyans surged, and two Ethiopians went with them. Grace Lobiach, who had won the Kenyan trials, did much of the pacing duties as Chebet followed closely with less than two laps to go. Chebet then led in the last lap before Gidey suddenly sprang to the front with less than 1km to go, but, in the end, it would appear she misjudged the distance to the finish line by a few meters.
Letensebet Gidey falters after race finish, she fell within sight of finish, photo by Getty Images for WorldAthletics
In the senior men’s race run in strong wind gusts, Jacob Kiplimo dominated the race in the last lap to win it by a comfortable margin. He even had the pleasure of slowing down to celebrate as she greeted fans with 100m to go before crossing the finish line in 29:17. Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi pushed Geoffrey Kamworor off the 2019 podium and moved Joshua Cheptegei to the bronze medal position after finishing 2nd in 29:26 against Cheptegei’s 29:37. Kamworor was timed at the same time with Cheptegei as he finished fourth leading three other Kenyans into 5-6-7 positions and a team title.
Jacob Kiplimo takex the WXC crown, photo by Steven Christo for World Athletics
Senayet Getachew sprinted after the last bend to win the women’s U20 race in 20:53 ahead of her teammate Medina Eisa in 21:00. Pamela Kosgei, the younger sister to Brigid Kosgei -the marathon world record holder- took the bronze medal.
On the last lap, three Kenyans had been at the lead with three Ethiopians on their heels; then the leading pack was down to four. Kosgei led up to the last 300m when fatigue hit her as she wound the tire’s section and two Ethiopians overtook her. The team title, the only one that didn’t go to Kenya, went to the Ethiopians.
Senayet Getachew atkes the WU20 finish, photo by Star Gazer Pix via Peacock TV
As though in answer to the upset in the women’s U20, Ismael Kipkurui led his fellow Kenyan, Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot, to a 1-2 finish in the men’s U20 race. Kipkurui, who had won the Kenyan trials, crossed the finish line in 24:29, one second ahead of Cheruiyot. Boki Diriba won the bronze medal for Ethiopia in 24:31.