Ethiopia’s Merga ends Kenyan dominance

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Ethiopia's Imana Merga won the men's race at the World Cross-Country Championships in Spain to prevent almost total Kenyan domination. Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot won the women's race ahead of compatriot Linet Masai and their counterparts filled five of the top seven places in the men's event, but Merga lifted the title after a sprint finish in Punta Umbria.

Merga burst clear in the closing 200 metres of the 12-kilometre race to clock a time of 33 minutes and 50 seconds, just ahead of Kenyan duo Paul Tanui and Vincent Chepkok. "Before I used to think of myself as a track runner but this winter I have got to like cross-country races more," a delighted Merga said.

Kenya's team triumph means that they have now won for the last six years and 24 out of the last 26 years. Earlier in the day, Cheruiyot had come out on top in a battle of two track world champions, the 5,000m title holder beating 10,000m champion Masai after breaking away midway through the final lap.

"I feel very happy because I hadn't won any cross-country medals," Cheruiyot said. "I had been eighth three times. I hope to defend my title in the next championship." American Shalane Flanagan finished third, the only non-African medallist of the day. European junior cross-country champion Charlotte Purdue was the highest-placed British woman in 14th and dedicated her performance to injured team-mate Steph Twell.

Twell suffered a serious ankle injury in a cross-country race in Belgium earlier this year and Purdue said: "That'll put a smile on her face." Purdue led the women's team to fifth, but the British men could only finish 15th with Andy Vernon the highest individual finisher in 58th.  Source (Press Association)
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