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Tsegay wins Prague Half

Atsedu Tsegay wins Prague Half Marathon 2012

Atsedu Tsegay wins Prague Half Marathon 2012

Deposed champion in today’s Hervis Prague Half Marathon, Philemon Limo was in little doubt of the quality of Atsedu Tsegay’s winning run. “If there had been no wind today, this guy would have broken the world record,” opined the Kenyan.

Tsegay of Ethiopia ran away from Limo and his colleague Henry Kiplagat after 15k in cold and windy conditions in the Czech capital this lunchtime (Saturday, 31). Those who thought he had accelerated too early were soon disabused of their doubts, when Tsegay, a 20 year old from Addis Ababa just went further and further away from his pursers, eventually shattering Limo’s course record, by close to a minute, in clocking 58min 47sec, the fastest time in the world this year.

Tsegay readily agreed with Limo, saying, “It was very difficult today, very windy. In my next race, I would like to try and break and the world record”. That belongs to Zersenay Tadesse of neighbouring Eritrea, with 58.23, which he ran in Lisbon just over two years ago.

Had there been a world cross country championships this year – the athletics authorities have gone to a biannual format – we may have been applauding Tsegay as the new world champion, because he won the Ethiopian title a few weeks ago, and would certainly have been a handful for anyone the Kenyans could have fielded. Limo, for example was 7th in last year’s world cross; and is well aware of Tsegay’s pedigree.

“I always knew he would be difficult, because he beat me in Marseille last year. We held him until 15k today, but after 15k it was impossible,” said Limo, who eventually finished third in 60.03, two seconds behind Kiplagat.

The Marseille to Cassis road race last October that Limo was referring to is on a very tough undulating course, and Tsegay broke that record too, as well as the 10k course record in another earlier French race, in Langueux. His previous half-marathon best was almost one year ago in Rabat, Morocco, where he clocked 61.12, so this comprehensive demolition of that time, in addition to his recent victories signal a major shift upwards in Tsegay’s career, after an unspectacular international debut as a junior shortly after he began training seriously three years ago.

Tsegay’s immediate preoccupation is to make the Ethiopian team for the Olympic Games, where he will be more than a match for any of his colleagues at 10,000 metres at the moment, if he can translate his form, and pugnacious running style, to the track.

Kiplagat was satisfied with his debut at the distance, just outside the hour, and Limo, who in 59.30 last year, said, “Today was not my day; you can’t run well every time, so I’m happy with third place”.

The women’s race too was decided at 15k, when Joyce Chepkirui of Kenya eased away from her more favoured colleague, and defending champion, Lydia Cheromei, and another Kenyan, Gladys Cherono.

The trio finished in that order, with all of them running personal bests, headed by Chepkirui’s course record of 67.03, which was a personal best by over two minutes, and beat Cheromei’s former best by exactly 30 seconds. “I didn’t expect to beat Lydia,” said Cheromei, “but I got away from her at 15k, and I’m very happy with my new personal best”. Incidentally her coach and husband, Erick Kibet finished tenth in the men’s race in 62.32.

Cheromei bettered her time from last year by seven seconds, with 67.26, and signalled her intent to return for the Prague Marathon on May 13, to defend her title and course record then. Cherono also had a significant improvement today, with 68.18, like Chepkirui, a new best by over two minutes.

This Hervis Prague Half-Marathon was the biggest ever field for a mass race in the Czech Republic (close to 11,000 starters); and is just the first of a series of races staged by the organisers around the country under the aegis of



1        7        Atsedu TSEGAY                     ETH  58.47
2        10      Henry KIPLAGAT        KEN  60.01
3        1        Philemon LIMO             KEN  60.03
4        32      Josphat BETT               KEN  61.01
5        12      Senteyehu MERGA       ETH  61.02
6        3        Kenneth KIPKEMOI     KEN  61.25
7        8        Geoffrey KANYAJUA  KEN  61.52
8        6        Dawid WOLDE             ETH  62.19
9        17      Daniel WANJIRU                   KEN  62.31
10      27      Erick KIBET                  KEN  62.32


1        F3     Joyce CHEPKIRUI                  KEN  67.03
2        F1     Lydia CHEROMEI                  KEN  67.26
3        F4     Gladys CHERONO                 KEN  68.18
4        F5     Rose CHELIMO                      KEN  71.35
5        F6     Tetiana GAMERA                            UKR 72.15
6        F23   Lyudmila KOVALENKO        UKR 73.35

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