Belihu, Tirop win World 10K Bengaluru

Belihu, Tirop win World 10K Bengaluru

Agnes Tirop of Kenya (left) and Andamlak Belihu of Ethiopia win the women's and men's Elite races in the TCS World 10K run in Bengaluru on Sunday. DH Photo/ S K Dinesh

Andamlak Belihu of Ethiopia and Agnes Tirop of Kenya emerged champions in the men's and women's category with contrasting runs at the TCS World 10K Bengaluru on Sunday.

Belihu set the pace right from the start and pushed all the way to the end to break Kenya's hold in the men's division with a time of 27:56.

Surprise package Mande Bushendich (28:03) of Uganda kept up with Belihu before falling back late and finishing with the silver while Birhanu Legese (28:23) of Ethiopia came in a distant third.

This was the first time after the very first edition in 2008 that a Kenyan did not finish on the podium among the men.

Tirop, the defending champion in the women's section, retained her title by warding off her Ethiopian rivals in a photo finish after a slow race. Tirop, Letesenbet Gidey and Senbere Teferi were given the same time of 33:55 but further splits put the Kenyan clearly ahead of the other two.

Belihu wrested control early, leading a pack of seven before Bushendich and Geoffrey Koech of Kenya started to push the Ethiopian after the halfway mark. Having run the first half in 14:11s, Belihu broke off from the pack along with Bushendich, leaving Koech and Legese behind ahead of the 8km mark and then motored his way to a strong finish.

"I came here to run a fast race, maybe even the record, but it didn't happen. But I'm happy," said the 20-year-old. "There were so many good runners and they will push so I had to run a fast race. I felt my knee a bit so I slowed down (in between) but I came back after. I'm happy because Mande pushed and he was so fast that I had to keep up."

If the men's race was decided by the runners' decision to push the pace, it was the opposite in the women's race. They played it safe, running slow, with the plan of kicking late on.

Having run a comfortable pace all through, Tirop, whose gold medal time of 33:55 (33:54.179) was the slowest in the event's history, turned on the boosters to outrun her competitors in the last moment as the top six runners finished four seconds off each other.

Ethiopian Gidey clocked 33:55 (33:54.519) to take the silver while compatriot Senbere Teferi finished just ahead of Netsanet Gudeta to clinch the third spot. Teferi clocked 33:55 (33:54.529) and finished just 0.03 seconds ahead of Gudeta.

In a steady race, the lead kept changing within a group of eight before Tirop, who was fourth coming into the stadium, unleashed a sensational assault in the final 200 meters to outrun Gidey just after the final bend on the track.

"My tactic was only to win, I wasn't looking at the time," said Tirop. "Race was slow. We're all so strong and we were afraid of each other. I was waiting for the kick, and the last kick is so difficult, but I did my best. I'm happy to win and defend my title."

The lack of a pacemaker was sorely felt as the field, with four athletes holding personal best better than the course record, failed to rewrite the mark.


Results: Elite men: 1. Andamlak Belihu (Eth) 27:56, 2. Mande Bushendich (Uga) 28:03, 3. Birhanu Legese (Eth) 28:23.

Elite women: 1. Agnes Tirop (Ken) 33:55, 2. Letesenbet Gidey (Eth) 33:55, 3. Senbere Teferi (Eth) 33:55.

Elite Indian men: 1. Karan Singh 29:55s, 2. G Lakshmanan 30:02, 3. Avinash Sable 30:36.

Elite Indian women: 1. Sanjivani Jadhav 35:10, 2. Parul Chaudhary 35:36, 3. Chinta Yadav 36:34.