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January 24, 2019

Rhonex impresses: Kenya’s fast-rising star posts second-fastest 10km performance

World U20 champion Rhonex Kipruto during a past international race
World U20 champion Rhonex Kipruto during a past international race

World U20 champion Rhonex Kipruto sped to a convincing victory at the Birell Prague 10km race, confirming his status as one of the world’s most promising distance runners.

The Kenyan fast-rising talent came within two seconds of the world record at the IAAF Gold Label road race on Saturday. His winning time of 26:46 is the second-fastest 10km performance in history second-fastest 10km performance in history behind Leonard Komon’s 26:44 world record from 2010. It also improves the World U20 best of 27:08 set by Kipruto himself earlier this year.

Knowing the course is conducive to fast times having played host to Joyciline Jepkosgei’s world record from last year, the elite men’s field set off at a brisk pace. After just the first few kilometres, the leading pack was whittled down with each passing minute. At half way, which pacemaker Bernard Kibet Lagat reached in 13:30, six men remained in contact with him thus — Kipruto, defending champion Bernard Kimeli, Geoffrey Koech, Abraham Kipyatich, Peter Kwemoi and Ethiopia’s Berta Belihu. Clearly unsatisfied with the half-way split, Lagat noticeably increased the pace, stringing out the lead pack. Within the course of the next kilometre, Kipruto had forged ahead of the pacemaker with Koech the only athlete capable of going with him, but not for long.

By six and a half kilometres, the chasing pack was about 12 seconds adrift of Koech. Kipruto, meanwhile, continued to press ahead and opened up a significant gap on Koech. The teenager reached 8kms in 21:31, suggesting a finishing time within 27 minutes was possible. He glanced back but by now no one else was in sight.

Geoffrey Koech came second in 27:18 while Mathew Kimeli ran a smart race to place third in 27:26. Abrham Kipyatich took fourth place in 27:38, two seconds ahead of Lagat, the pacemaker.

“I’m very satisfied,” said Kipruto, who won the 10,000m at the IAAF World U20 Championships two months ago. “I was the only one pushing it. No one assisted me.”

In the women’s race, Caroline Kipkirui led Kenyans sweep after posting 30:19. Race favourite Fancy Chemutai came home second in 30:22 with Diana Kipyokei third in 30:23. Dorcas Tuitoek (31:17) and Perine Nenkampi (31:25) completed top five places.

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