Agnes Tirop runs tactical race to retain title

Still the best: Kenya’s Agnes Tirop breaks the tape, in the presence of ambassador Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, to continue her reign in the TCS World 10K.  

Agnes Tirop held off a spirited bunch of Ethiopians to become the first woman to defend the TCS World 10K title here on Sunday.

In a slow, tactical but tight race — the top three were split by less than half-a-second — the Kenyan came home in 33:54.179s, a far cry from the blazing 31:19 she ran last year, but crucially fractions ahead of Letesenbet Gidey. Senbere Teferi followed in third.

The men’s run in contrast was among the quickest in recent years, with Ethiopia’s Andamlak Belihu crossing the tape in 27:56 to record the fourth best time in the event’s history.

Uganda’s Mande Bushendich kept pace with Belihu for three-fourths of the race before withering away to finish seven seconds behind. Birhanu Legese completed the podium, but was a further 20 seconds slower.

Among the Indian women, Sanjivani Jadhav finished an impressive 10th overall for the second straight year, clocking 35:10. Towards the end, she nearly caught the reigning World marathon champion from Bahrain Rose Chelimo, but fell two seconds short.

Karan Singh emerged the Indian men’s winner, as he weathered a challenge from G. Lakshmanan, to run 29:55, the second-fastest by a home athlete after Suresh Kumar’s 29:49 (2015).

“The marathon qualifying cut-off for Tokyo 2020 is 2:11:30. So I want to improve my speed which is why ran a 10K,” explained Karan. “I thought if I followed Lakshmanan I would have a good time. I kept pace with him and eventually won.”

No clear leader

In the morning, the women, with an earlier start time, had the better of the conditions. But in the absence of a pacemaker, no one took the lead. It wasn’t until the last few hundred metres that Tirop made the play, breaking away from the Ethiopian trio of Netsanet Gudeta, Dera Dida and Tsehay Gemechu and Emirati Alia Mohamed. Gidey and Teferi kept up for a few fleeting seconds, but were ultimately pipped.

The men’s competition saw no such close finish with Belihu the clear winner. He set the pace from the outset and led for almost the entirety of the race. Only Bushendich stayed with him but could do nothing when the 2018 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon champion decided to take off on the smooth and downhill final stretch to emerge victorious.

The results: Overall: Men: 1. Andamlak Belihu (Eth) 27:56s; 2. Mande Bushendich (Uga) 28.03; 3. Birhanu Legese (Eth) 28:23. Women: 1. Agnes Tirop (Ken) 33:54.179; 2. Letesenbet Gidey (Eth) 33:54.519; 3. Senbere Teferi (Eth) 33:54.529.

India: Men: 1. Karan Singh 29:55; 2. G. Lakshmanan 30:02; 3. Avinash Sable 30:36. Women: 1. Sanjivani Jhadav 35:10; 2. Parul Chaudhary 35:36; 3. Chinta Yadav 36:34.

Winner’s prize money (both sections): $26,000. Indians (both sections): ₹2.75 lakh.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 5:36:16 AM |

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