Irene Cheptai wins TCS World 10K

Despite falling three seconds short of setting a new world record, Irene Cheptai made a memorabe 10K road race international debut by winning the TCS World 10K on Sunday.

Irene Cheptai, the women's world cross country champion, made dream debut at the TCS World 10k Bengaluru run as she finished in 31:51, three seconds short of a new record.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Irene Cheptai, the reigning women's world cross country champion, made a memorable 10K road race international debut by winning the TCS World 10K here on Sunday. The Kenyan clocked 31:51 and even threatened to break compatriot Lucy Kabuu's course record set in 2014, but fell three seconds short.

Ethiopia's Worknesh Degefa was next, nine seconds behind and Helah Kiprop of Kenya a further two seconds away.

On the men's side, Alex Korio Oloitiptip, the winner here in 2013, won in 28:12. Compatriot Edwin Kiptoo came second but was 14 seconds slower. Stephen Kissa, the pacemaker, after staying true to his role for half the race, staked a claim for the ultimate prize before settling for third (28:28).

Two-time defending champion Mosinet Geremew was a pale shadow of his former self, coming in a rather dispiriting tenth. World Record holder Leonard Komon was equally uninspiring in eighth.

Among the Indians, Naveen Kumar and Saigeeta Naik crossed the tape first among men and women respectively with times of 30:56 and 36:01.

Neither the late start times nor the high summer temperatures leading up to the race made any dent. While overnight rains had brought down the temperatures significantly, persistent cloud cover ensured that the athletes wouldn't tire easily. It perhaps reflected in the results – the top four in both men and women all had better times than the 2016 winners in the respective categories.

Of the two, the women's race shaded the men's. Pacemaker Carolyne Jepkosgei dropped back rather early, leaving Cheptai, Degefa and Gladys Chesir to push each other. The result was a slow 16:19 5km split.

Cheptai and Degefa were both neck and neck, but at about the 8km mark, Cheptai decided to break away. She sprinted towards the end but Degefa couldn't find the same finishing kick. Chesir, who was all along in with a chance to be in the top-three, tapered off towards the end, with Helah Kiprop, a marathon runner with lasting power, completing the podium.

Among the men, Oloitiptip was part of the leading pack from the start and finished with aplomb. His closest challengers were first Kiwi Zane Robertson and Kiptoo and then Kissa. At the 6km mark, Robertson fell by the wayside and then a kilometre later Oloitiptip decided to leave everyone behind. A fierce battle ensued for the second spot before Kiptoo passed Kissa with barely a few hundred metres left.

The results: Overall: Men: 1. Alex Korio Oloitiptip (Ken) 28:12s; 2. Edwin Kiptoo (Ken) 28:26s; 3. Stephen Kissa (Uga) 28:28s.

Women: 1. Irene Cheptai (Ken) 31:51s; 2. Worknesh Degefa (Eth) 32:00s; 3. Helah Kiprop (Ken) 32:02s.

India: Men: 1. Naveen Kumar 30:56s; 2. Sandeep Tayade 31:02s; 3. Shankar Man Thapa 31:07s. Women: 1. Saigeeta Naik 36:01s; 2. Kiran Sahdev 36:30s; 3. Preenu Yadav 36:46s

Winner's Prize money: Men: $26,000; Women: $26,000; Indian men: Rs. 2,50,000; Indian women: Rs. 2,50,000.