Kenya opened up their medal count at the ongoing IAAF World Cross Country Championships with a gold medal in the mixed relay after clocking an impressive 22:22 on Sunday at the Kololo Independence Grounds.
The new event comprised of two men and two women with each running a loop of the course.
The reigning world 1500m champion, Asbel Kiprop, set the pace in the first loop with a good advantage over Ethiopian Tufa, who posed a challenge after four minutes but that lasted just 25 seconds as Kiprop kicked in to regain his lead and hand Winfred Nzisa Mbithe a six-second advantage.
Mbithe sprung into action with a well-established lead over Ethiopia’s Bone Cheluke to prepare the way for Bernard Kipkorir Koros, who dwarfed Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha.
It was clear from the onset that the battle was between the world powerhouses, Kenya and Ethiopia, but the former was stronger on the day.
With a good lead, Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech maintained the lead, despite the challenge set by reigning Olympic silver medalist Genzebe Dibaba, who came close on the home stretch but the damage was done and Kenya walked away with the gold medals.
The +0.08 lead over Ethiopia for the gold announced Kenya’s intentions at the world event that has attracted 59 countries.
Turkey settled for third place while hosts Uganda finished fourth, +0.41 seconds behind the gold medalists.
Bahrain, Morocco and United States followed suit in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively while Tanzania, Spain and Eritrea completed the top-10 line-up.
The mixed relay, that is debuting at the world event, was well-enjoyed by the Ugandan fans at Kololo.