•Three Kenyans finished in the top four in the men’s race that saw last year’s winner and course record holder Nicholas Kipkoekir come forth
•Gemechu was impressive in the way she kicked on at the end of the prestigious USD 210,000 World Athletics Gold Label Road Race
Kenya’s Sabastian Sawe took the men’s title in the landmark 15th edition of the Tata Consultancy Services World 10K Bengaluru on Sunday.
Sawe, who clocked the world’s fifth fastest 10K time in Germany last month, ran a superbly-paced race to win a close contest in 27:58.24. He pocketed US$26,000 (Sh3.6 million) for his feat.
Three Kenyans finished in the top four in the men’s race that saw last year’s winner and course record holder Nicholas Kipkorir come fourth, as his countryman Sawe won in spectacular style after kicking on at the finish.
Sawe won milliseconds ahead of Rodrigue Kwizera (Burundi) after the latter was ahead moments earlier in what was a gripping race.
“It’s my first time here. I was feeling confident coming into the run because I’m coming off a victory in Germany. The last two kilometres were really tough. I told myself I have to push really hard, even the last 500m was very challenging,” said Sawe. Ethiopia’s Tsehay Gemechu won the women’s crown in 31:38. Gemechu was equally impressive in the way she kicked on at the end in the prestigious $ 210,000 World Athletics Gold Label Road Race. She equally received a prize cheque of $26,000 in what is possibly one of the greatest road races in Asia.
It was an Ethiopian 1-2-3 in the women’s race with Fotyen Tesafe finishing four seconds behind Gemechu and the experienced Dera Dida only seven seconds shy of the winner.
It came down to the final kilometre after the trio grippingly ran almost similar times through 2.5km, 5km and 7.5km splits and it was a strong finish by Gemechu that saw this year’s Tokyo Marathon runner-up take the crown.
In her previous visit to Bengaluru in 2019 Gemechu had finished sixth. “I was determined to get this victory. In 2019, I made one mistake, this time I had the experience so this was an easier race. I think my track experience came in handy today,” she told reporters after her sensational win.
In the race for the Indian elite athletes, India’s most promising distance runner Murli ensured a brilliant finish, clocking 29:58.03 with Harmanjot Singh giving a close contest for the top spot.
He finished in a time of 29:59.10 and Uttam Chand finished third with a time of 29:59.24.
The Indian men’s race followed a similar template as the international one with the athletes running together as a pack from the get-go. Initially, it was Uttam Chand who led the charge, with Gaurav hot on his heels.
While Uttam was being chased by Gaurav for most of the race, it was Harmanjot Singh and Murli Gavit who powered through the pack in the latter stages of the contest.
The rankings changed significantly in a final couple of kilometres as the likes of Harmanjot and Murli went through the gears and took the contest down to the wire.
It was Murli who had just the right amount of fuel in the tank to power through the home stretch as he stormed into the lead and finished ahead of Harmanjot and Uttam.
“This was my second race here. I last took part in TCS World 10K in 2015. The weather didn’t matter much to me, I have been training well. Although this wasn’t my personal best, I am happy with the big win,” stated an elated Murli.
Among the Indian women, it wasn’t as much of a tight contest, as the 19-year-old Tamshi Singh produced a personal best performance in only her first appearance here.
She timed 34:12 while Poonam Sonune was second with a time of 34:29, and Seema finished third with the clock reading 34:30. Both Murli and Tamshi walked away with a grand cash purse of INR 2,75,000 each .