Hellen Obiri became the first woman with individual senior titles from the IAAF World outdoor, World Indoor and World Cross Country Championships after steaming down the field to clinch the senior women’s gold in Aarhus, Denmark on Saturday.
Obiri who led from gun to tape shook off her tail the threat of Ethiopia’s Dera Dida gassing up the pace in the final 500m to clinch the title as Kenya defended the crown they won in Kampala, Uganda, two years ago.
She stopped the clock in 36:14 with Dida coming second in 36:16. Gidey was third in 36:24 while Chepkoech drifted all the way down to seventh 37:12.
Eva Cherono and Deborah Samum followed in eighth and ninth respectively.
This was the first outing for the IAAF Diamond League champion in the World Cross.
“I am so grateful for the victory. I didn’t know I would win because the race was tough. I used my mind and I also wanted to be patient. The Ethiopians were string in the hills, it was so tough for me. I only wanted to do one cross country and get a medal. I don’t think I will go on to do another cross country; this is enough for me,” Obiri, still grinning widely from the victory said. After the race
Obiri threw down the gauntlet early, showing that she was in for business. She came into the race with superb form in cross country having won the Engoibar Cross Country in Spain before returning home to clinch the Kenya Defense Forces and National titles.
She stuck to the lead and after the first loop, it was clear that the wheat was separated from the chaff. Obiri was upfront alongside World Steeplechase Record holder Beatrice Chepkoech and the Ethiopian duo of Dida and Letesenbet Gidey.
Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai stuck to their tails as the leading group was condensed to just five.
As the race wore on especially on the hilly stretch towards the end of the 2km loop, so did the leading group thin out.
19-year old Ugandan Chemutai was the first to wade off as the Ethiopian duo stuck to Chepkoech and Obiri. The steeplechase champion was the next to drift off the leading pack as the course became more punishing.
On her face, Obiri showed determination. She stuck to her tact of staying in front and even when the hilly section burnt down her muscles and strength, she never gave up.
Gidey was the next to drop off as the athletes began tackling the final loop of the race, leaving the fight down to Obiri and Dida.
Just like she does in track with so much ease, Obiri peeled off Dida with some powerful sprint on the hilly section, the Ethiopian trying but in vain to catch up with the Ngong-based athlete.