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Surprise Cross-Country winner Kirui wants to replicate steeplechase success

Amos Abuga @PeopleSport11

Former world junior 3,000m steeplechase champion Amos Kirui took many people by surprise when he won the senior men’s 10km race during the national trials for the 43rd World Cross country slated for Aarhus, Denmark from March 30.

Kirui, based in Japan, is no stranger to international competition, having taken gold at the 2016 IAAF World U-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland in the 3,000m steeplechase event, continuing his country’s excellent record in the water and hurdles track event.

The Keringet-based athlete followed that up with bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April 2018 to underline his ability to mix it with the seniors in international competition.

To put his triumph into perspective, the Kenyan selection event is billed as the toughest event outside only the World Cross itself, owing to the east African nation standing head and shoulders above all others at the now biannual event.

Devastating pace

In Kirui’s slipstream were casualties such as two-time World Cross senior men’s individual winner Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, World U-20 10,000m gold medallist Rhonex Kipruto, and Leonard Barsoton, who won silver at the last World Cross in Kampala, Uganda two years ago.  None could live with Kirui’s devastating turn of pace over the last 600m.

Former national cross champion and 2015 World Cross silver medallist Paul Tanui, as well as former World U-20 men’s 10,000m champion Josphat Better, were other titans humbled by the perfectly executed dash for glory by Kirui, who lined up for the start with barely a mention among the pre-race favourites.

“I am happy to have won but now the hardest part begins as we head for residential training,” Kirui said after the win.

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