Kiplimo defends World Cross Country title with gold in Serbia, Cheptegei lags in sixth

Jacob Kiplimo runs fast and first to defend his senior title win at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Belgrade 24 (© Getty Images)

Ugandan long-distance runner Jacob Kiplimo won gold in the Senior Men’s World Cross Country Championship (10km) in a tight race in Belgrade, Serbia on Saturday.

Kiplimo, 23, ran 28:09 to beat Ethiopian Berihu Aregawi and Kenyan Benson Kiplangat, who ran 28:12 and 28:14, to finish second and third, respectively and defend the title he also won last year in Bathurst, Australia.

“It actually feels more exciting to successfully defend my title than to win the first one,” said Kiplimo. “But it was also tougher. I came here expecting I could win again, but the field was really strong. The pace was fast, the guys kept pushing it and there was still a big group out in front. It wasn’t until the final three kilometres that I felt I needed to move to the front.

“The course was fine, a little challenging with the obstacles,” he added. “It was a little tough running in the heat, but that wasn’t a major issue.

“I was hungry for medals after missing Budapest last year. I was in good shape, but then the injury happened and I had to get treatment, but I am back now. My goal this year is to do what Joshua Cheptegei did and win an Olympic gold. My main focus is the 10,000m, but I’m not sure yet if I want to double.”

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Cheptegei, however, failed to make the podium as he finished sixth after finishing 28:24.

Saturday’s victory for Kiplimo makes it three successive gold medals in the senior men’s race at the event for Uganda, with Joshua Cheptegei scooping the other (2019).

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Kiplimo now sits alongside the likes of Kenenisa Bekele, Geoffrey Kamworor and Paul Tergat as back-to-back winners of the senior men’s title.

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