RWANDAN ATHLETES staged a poor show on their debut in the 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships as Kenya produced a total dominant performance yesterday in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Zersenay Tadese, the dominant force in men’s half-marathon running for almost a decade, was finally beaten out of the medals as he finished fourth in a race won by Kenya’s Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor in 59:07, the world’s fastest time this year.
Rwanda’s best ranked athlete, Felicien Muhitira, finished a distant 41st, clocking 1:02:30 to come three minutes and 23 seconds behind the winner.
The 2013 Kigali half marathon winner, Alexis Nizeyimana, finished 47th in a time of 1:02:54; Felix Ntirenganya finished 55thclocking 1:03:48 while Hussein Habumugisha clocked 1:05:11 to finish 72nd out of the 1,000 athletes who finished the 21,097 km.
The quartet were on a mission to improve on the sixth position ranking attained two years ago in Bulgaria, but this proved futile as they could not even make it among the top ten.
Since its inception back in 1992, no Ugandan runner has stepped onto the podium at the World Half Marathon Championships.
It has largely been Kenya’s hunting ground where they have won half of the past 20 editions and collecting 23 individual medals in total.
Meanwhile, Kamworor completed the 21.0975-kilometer flat route through downtown Copenhagen in 59:07. He was followed by Samuel Tsegay of Eritrea and Guye Adola of Ethiopia, who both came 13 seconds behind.
The trio of Kamworor, Tsegay and Adola managed to shake off Tadese, and the Kenyan then pulled away from his two rivals in the final kilometers.
Kenyans swept the first five places in the women’s race with Gladys Cherono crossing the finish line first in 1:07.28. Mary Wacera Ngugi was 13 seconds behind in second place, with Selly Chepyego Kaptich 26 seconds back in third.
Tadese who missed an individual gold finally got his hands on team gold thanks to the additional efforts of Samuel Tsegay, who won the battle with Ethiopia’s Guye Adola to take silver in a personal best of 59:20, and Nguse Amlosom, fifth in 59:59. Adola earned bronze in a personal best of 59:20.
The last time Tadese had finished outside the top three in a half marathon was as a 21-year-old, 11 years ago. His last defeat to a fellow Eritrean was back in 2002 at the World Half Marathon Championships in Brussels.
Eritrea’s team title brought Tadese’s medal tally at the World Half Marathon Championships to a record 13.
The silver and bronze medalists were not the only ones to break their personal bests on the flat and fast course around the city centre – 13 of the first 20 men home ran faster than they had ever done before.