Bengaluru: Kenya's Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli and Irene Cheptai smashed the course records to win top honours at the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) World 10K Bengaluru here on Sunday. Kimeli, fourth in the Tokyo Olympics 5000m event, and Cheptai ran course records of 27:38 and 30:35, in men's and women's category respectively at the World Athletics Elite Label Race. Kimeli reduce the record by six seconds from the previous mark set by his compatriot Geoffrey Kamworor in 2014.
The race started off in an unusual manner with Kenya's Reynold Kipkorir out on his own for much of the first 5km. However, shortly after going through 5km, Tadese Worku changed gear and started to rapidly tow the leading men and Kimeli continued running just behind him. As they reached the final kilometre Worku couldn't respond when Kimeli took the lead, with the latter almost sprinting like a middle-distance runner over the final 300 metres. Kimeli crossed the line in 27:38 with Worku also inside the old record with 27:43 while the Kenyan pre-race favourite, and former world half marathon record holder, Kibiwott Kandie made up three places in the final two kilometres and came through for third in 27:57. Honestly, I was not expecting to get the course record. But only when Worku pushed ahead, I picked up pace towards the end, reflected Kimeli. In the women's race, Cheptai took an even bigger slice out of the course record which had stood to the late Agnes Tirop at 31:19 since 2018. After a super-fast opening two kilometres of 3:02 and 3:04, a quick time was always likely and the race was soon down to just three women at the front: Cheptai, Obiri and fellow Kenyan Joyce Tele. Tele started to lose contact with her compatriots in the fifth kilometre before Obriri, pushing the pace with Cheptai running in her slipstream, passed the halfway point in 15:15. With 250 metres to go, Cheptai darted past Obiri crossing the line in a personal best of 30:35, her first time inside 31 minutes. Obiri finished with an outstanding 30:44 while Tele was a distant third in 31:47 to complete an all-Kenyan podium. When we raced through an inclined patch on the route [just after 7km], I felt like Hellen's pace reduced, that's when I tried harder to take lead. But even when I entered the stadium for the final lap, I was fearing Hellen and kept pushing my speed to win, commented Cheptai. Kipkorir Kimeli and Cheptai both take home first place cheques of USD 26,000 for their victories and course record bonuses of USD 8000. Parul Chaudhary, Abhishek Pal crowned new Indian champions
Parul Chaudhary, who recorded her personal best, and Abhishek Pal were crowned champions in the Indian men's and women's field.
It was an easy win for Parul, who hardly strayed away from the lead role in the pack. A final burst allowed her to finish at the top and set a personal best in 10K road running at 34:38. Defending champion Sanjivani finished 6 seconds behind at 34:44. The surprise of the day was for Komal Jagadale who also managed to break away from the pack in the last 350m of the race and finish at 35:28. For Komal, a steeplechaser, it was an incredible debut 10K race where she finished ahead of her seniors The men's field featured a podium that finished with a second of each other with Abhishek taking the top spot at 30:05 while both Kartik Kumar and Gulveer Singh finished at 30:06. For both Kartik and Gulveer, it was their first time racing a 10K on road and both runners, who train together at a camp in Ooty, were pleased with their performance. While Gulveer, a 10K road race novice, has yet to qualify for the Asian Games, both Abhishek and Kartik have secured qualification in the 5k event. The International Event Ambassador for the event former American sprinter and 4-time Olympic champion Justin Gatlin was swept up in the fervour created in the Kanteerava stadium with the return of the much-anticipated event. The American even hinted at a possible marathon debut as part of his post-retirement plans.
It's the discipline of it all (on maintaining his fitness after retirement) keeping fit and wanting to look in the mirror and saying, I look good.—PTI