Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN athletes found the going tough at this year’s IAAF World Cross-country Championships in Kampala, Uganda, yesterday where they failed to make an impression. Zimbabwe had Wellington Varevi and Rudo Mhonderwa in the senior men and women’s 10km races while the pair of Dumo Mkhwananzi and Dzidzai Gumede took part in the Under-20 men (8km) and women (6km) events respectively at the Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala.
While it was inevitable that this was going to be a tough assignment for the four as they made their maiden appearances at the world stage, hopes were that they would improve their personal times posted at the national event last month.
But only Gumede recorded a slight improvement from 25min 5.7sec she ran at the national championships to 24min 59sec as she finished on position 90 yesterday in the Under-20 women’s race.
Mhonderwa finished at position 72 in 37min 57sec out of 95 athletes that completed the race for senior women.
In the junior men, Mkhwananzi finished at position 91 in 28min 19sec. Varevi managed position 59 in 31min 24sec in the senior men and failed to beat his 29min target.
Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor was the first to cross the finish line in the senior men’s race in 28min 24sec to defend the title he won in 2015.
It was the same script in the senior women’s race with Irene Cheptai coming first in 31min 57sec. Alice Nawowuna took second position in 32min 1sec, followed by Lilian Rengeruk 10seconds later.
The Under-20 women’s 6km title went to Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey in 18min 34sec as she won back-to-back titles after going into yesterday’s race as the defending champion.
She becomes the fourth woman in the history of the championships to win back-to-back Under-20 titles.
Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo romped to victory in the junior men 8km race in 22min 40sec to win the first gold medal at the World Cross-country Championships for his country.
Amdework Walelegn of Ethiopia was second with a time of 22min 43sec and Kenya’s Richard Kimunyan clocked 22min 52sec to settle for third place.
Kenya also came out tops in the inaugural mixed relay in 22min 22sec. They were followed by Ethiopia 8seconds later. Turkey were third in 22min 37sec.
The 8km race was contested by teams consisting of two men and an equal number of women with each running a 2km loop. This was a new addition to the championships.
The championships are held every two years.