Nairobi — Newly-crowned World Cross Country champion Beatrice Chebet admits she had given up all hope of securing gold before the dramatic collapse of world 10,000m champion Letesenbet Gidey who had been leading the race until then.
Chebet timed timed 0:33:48 to win gold as Ethiopian Tsigie Gebreselama (0:33:56) and another Kenyan, Agnes Ngetich (0:34:00) claimed silver and bronze respectively.
The Commonwealth Games 5000m champion says she had already resigned herself to second place as Gidey looked poised for the top crown.
"I don't know exactly what happened to her... maybe she hit her top stride a bit too soon and ran out of steam. Personally, I had given up and resigned myself to fighting for second place because the gap between the two of us seemed insurmountable. But then I saw that she was no longer comfortable as before and so decided to give it one last push and that's how I managed to win it," Chebet said.
Gidey, the triple world record holder in 5000m, 10,000m and half marathon, had established daylight between herself and Chebet with around 600m to the finish line.
For majority of the race, Chebet had fought gallantly to keep Gidey at bay as the Ethiopian sought to become the first from her country to win the senior women's title since Tirunesh Dibaba in 2008.
However, the Ethiopian's powerful surge with a quarter of the race to go seemed to have undone Chebet's hard work not until less than a hundred metres to the finish line where Gidey's legs seemed to grow weak and she collapsed to the ground.
This gave Chebet, who had all along sensed a last-minute opportunity to pounce for the win, the chance to surge ahead and beat the tape as Gebreselama saved Ethiopian's blushes with silver.
Reflecting on the events leading up to the end of the race, Chebet said she always knew she had to try and go for the win, regardless of the threat posed by the Ethiopians.
"I am so happy... honestly, I never expected to come away with such a wonderful result. But then again, one thing I always tell myself is to have self-confidence and everything will work out. Nothing comes easy but it requires a lot of determination," she said.
The African 5000m champion will be undoubtedly buoyed by her latest podium finish in what is turning out to be a glittering career for the 22-year-old whose first medal was gold in the women's 5000m at the World Under 20 Championships in Tampere, Finland in 2018.
However, the world 5000m silver medalist has unfinished business as far as the World Championships is concerned.
"The next target is definitely the World Championships and probably to come back with the world title. This time round, there is no need to fear anyone. No one has the upper hand going into Budapest... even someone who performs badly at the national trials may still come back and clinch a podium place in Budapest," she said.
With six gold, two silver and two bronze, Kenya topped the medals table with 10 as Ethiopia and Uganda placed second and third with nine and two medals respectively.