(© Almond Blossom Cross organisers)
In two trilling races Kiprono Menjo and Jelena Prokopchuka took the titles at the 32nd Almond Blossom Cross Country this morning on the Açoteias Cross Country course.
The 32nd Almond Blossom Cross Country is an IAAF Cross Country Permit Meeting.
Familiar name takes women’s race
As the organisers promised, the women’s race was a thriller, with several Olympic medalists in the field running for the title of Almond Blossom Queen. From the outset, Latvia’s Prokophuka, winner in the Almond Blossom Cross Country in 2006 & 2007, proved to be in ample shape to achieve the title. But Russia’s Gulnara Galkina-Samitova, the 3000m Steeplechase Olympic champion, and Hungary’s Aniko Kalovics, winner of S. Sebastian and Cinque Mullini Cross Country races this year, wanted to run from the front and make the race a fast one.
But everything was clear over the last lap, with Prokopcuka proving her knowledge of the course, and crossing the finish line six second ahead of Kalovics.
Surprising was the third place of Dulce Félix. The Portuguese, winner of Amadora S. Silvestre race, closed strongly to reach the finish line ahead of Samitova.
The other best Portuguese girls were the Olympic athlete Ana Dias, a local runner, in sixth, and Fernanda Ribeiro, the former Olympic, World and European 10,000m champion, winner of the Almond Blossom Cross Country in 2003, who was seventh.
Menjo fulfills favourite’s role
Menjo was the strongest in men’s field, and he proved to live up to expectations. He took the lead after the third turn and after that he ably managed to keep his advantage from the runner-up, the Brazilian Gladston Barbosa, and the third place finisher, the Portuguese Hermano Ferreira, a member of the Portuguese Maratona team who won the European Cross Country Clubs Cup. Ferreira was also the 2009 national road race championship silver medallist.
In fourth was another Brazilian athlete, Sérgio Silva, who finished ahead of the Portuguese Fernando Silva, the 2005 and 2006 national Cross Country champion.
Kenya’s Eunice Jepkorir and Portuguese Rui Pedro Silva, two names who were among the pre-race favourites, did not compete.
António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF
MEN (10 km) -
1. Kiprono Menjo, KEN 30.01
2. Gladston Barbosa, BRA 30.07
3. Hermano Ferreira, POR 30.20
4. Sérgio Silva, BRA 30.24
5. Fernando Silva, POR 30.33
6. Russel Dessaix, AUS 30.35
7. Benjamin Malaty, FRA 30.39
8. Sergei Ivanov, RUS 30.54
WOMEN (6 km):
1. Yelena Prokopchuka, LAT 19.30
2. Aniko Kalovics, HUN 19.36
3. Dulce Félix, POR 19.40
4. Gunara Galkina Samitova, RUS 19.50
5. Sophie Duarte, FRA 20.03
6. Ana Dias, POR 20.09
7. Fernanda Ribeiro, POR 20.15
8. Olga Calenradova, UKR 20.29