Peres Jepchirchir beats own half-marathon world record in Gdynia; Joshua Cheptegei misses out on medal
Jepchirchir came home just two seconds clear of Germany's Melat Yisak Kejeta, who smashed the European women-only record to take silver in 1hr 05min 18secs, with Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw a further second behind.
Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir lowered her own world record for an all-women's half marathon at the world championships in Gdynia on Saturday but serial record-breaker Joshua Cheptegei missed out on a medal in the men's race.
The 27-year-old Jepchirchir, who also won world half marathon gold in 2016, produced a final sprint to take the women's title in 1hr 05min 16sec.
That bettered the previous best set by Jepchirchir herself in Prague on 5 September of 1hr 05min 34sec.
She came home just two seconds clear of Germany's Melat Yisak Kejeta, who smashed the European women-only record to take silver in 1hr 05min 18secs, with Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw a further second behind.
On a cold and windy morning, a group of favourites broke away early during the four-lap race but three of them suffered falls to disappear from contention.
Defending champion Netsanet Gudeta’s race almost came to an abrupt stop as the leaders took a 90-degree turn on to the seafront, the defending champion taking a fall and losing several seconds to the leaders.
It was a gap she would never close, the Ethiopian slipping farther behind during the third lap.
Turkey’s Yasemin Can led a group of seven through 10km in 30mins 47sec after which Jepchirchir began to take control.
The Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh, world record holder in a mixed race (1hr 04min 31sec), then tangled with Joyciline Jepkosgei and both crashed to the ground, leaving Jepchirchir, Kejeta and Yehualaw to battle it out in the final sprint.
Jacob Kiplimo took the men's race in a new championship record of 58min 49sec but his Ugandan compatriot Cheptegei, the favourite for the title, could only finish fourth.
Kiplimo, who turns 20 next month, had never raced the 21.1 km distance before but he showed nerves of steel as he and the Kenyan Kibiwott Kandie broke away from the leading pack after the 15 km mark.
The 2017 world junior cross champion then pushed clear in the last few metres to edge Kandie by five seconds and secure his first major title.
The Ethiopian Amedework Walelegn took bronze, coming in another 14 seconds behind.
Cheptegei finished fourth in 59min 21sec, over half a minute behind Kiplimo, a rare disappointment for an athlete who has lit up a truncated 2020 season.
The 24-year-old had only made three outings this year but each time had broken a world record.
In February he claimed the world 5km road record in Monaco. Then, after a period of coronavirus lockdown at home in Uganda, he returned to Monaco and, in his first race back, wiped almost two seconds off Kenenisa Bekele's 16-year-old track world record time over the 5,000m as he clocked 12min 35.36sec.
Earlier this month in Valencia, he smashed Bekele's 10,000m track world record, taking off over six seconds as he clocked 26mins 11.00 seconds.
Those efforts may have counted against him as he attempted the half-marathon distance for the first time in competition.
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