The Eritrean Olympic team of Rahel Daniel and Aron Kifle won the 17th edition of the Cross Internacional de Atapuerca, the fourth Gold standard meeting of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour this season.
A. Kifle Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
On the morning of November 13th, the women’s 5000-meter race got things started at the 2021 event. The 19-year-old Rahel Daniel, competing in only her second international event, triumphed over more well-known competitors like Margaret Chelimo and Beatrice Chebet to take first place.
Rahel, who had followed Chelimo and Chebet for the all of the race, sprinted past the Kenyans in the closing stretch to finish in 25:03.
The Eritrean teen who competed in her first international competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was the underdog because Margaret Chelimo was the heavy favourite. Rahel, on the other hand, had different plans.
Early on in the race,
A group of 14 runners led by the Kenyan team set a blistering pace, finishing the first loop in little under 6 minutes and 28 seconds. Halfway through the race, the group broke up, with only Beatrice Chebet, Nora Jeruto, Celliphine Chespol, and Rahel Daniel able to maintain Chelimo’s pace.
After a few circuits, Beatrice Chebet seized control, and Chespol dropped out, leaving a four-way tie for first place in the final 100 metres.
Towards the finish line, Rahel Daniel broke away from the pack and assumed the lead, a development that left spectators on the edge of their seats.
The Kenyans were shaken up because the unknown Rahel was winning the race, and they couldn’t keep up as the Eritrean triumphantly crossed the finish line, beating out the world under 20 cross country champion Beatrice Chebet and the 5000m world silver medalist Margaret Chelimo.
Nora Jerato, winner of the 3000m Diamond League final in September of last year, placed fourth overall, and Celliphine Chepsol, holder of the world under-20 record in the 3000m steeplechase, placed fifth.
Here you have 19-year-old Rahel competing in her second international event, alongside veteran runners who have broken records and won multiple competitions.
It is quite astonishing that Rahel, the least experienced runner in the group, was able to go out there and beat well-known racers to score her maiden international triumph, thereby making her official announcement to the athletics world.
Participants had no idea that Rahel had paved the way for another victory for Eritrea the next day.
In the 9000-meter cross-country race this time around, Aron Kifle did his part and prevented Rodrigue Kwizera from claiming another victory.
Last year’s victor, Ouassim Oumaiz, and this year’s leader, Carlos Mayo, got things started off slowly. After 10 minutes, Kwizera took the lead and led a pack of 12 men.
At this point, the race was being led by 23-year-old Aron Kifle, who had watched his colleague Rahel Daniel win her competition the day before.
He was followed by Rodrigue Kwizera, Thierry Ndikumwenayo, the brothers Ayeko, Thomas, and Joel, the Spanish tandem Abdessamad Oukhelfen, and Carlos Mayo.
In the last laps of the race, Aron Kifle upped the ante with his blistering speed, pulling away from Kwizera, the Ayeko twins, and Oukhelfen by a margin of four seconds.
Kwizera quickly passed the Ayeko brothers and Oukhelfen, leaving them in his dust as he charged forward to catch up with Aron, who appeared at ease in the lead from the very beginning.
Even though Kwizera made up ground in the final 300 metres, he was unable to catch Aron, who crossed the finish line in 25 minutes and 33 seconds to Kwizera’s 25:34. Joel edged out Thomas to take third place.
Rahel and Aron of Eritrea capped up a phenomenal two days of competition at the 17th edition of the Cross Internacional de Atapuerca by taking first place in the women’s and men’s events, respectively.
Coach Livingstone Abraham told Eritrean sports Journalist Tesfaldet Mebrahtu,
“The result wasn’t easy.” after the race. It was not easy, but we trained our athletes very hard from the 1500 metres all the way up to the 5000 metres so that they would be prepared to race.
When asked about Rahel, the owner of the Mereb Setit training centre, Mr. Teweldebrhan Tesfagaber, said that she was a role model for young athletes and that the country had won a win.
During his remarks, Mr. Teweldebrahan also urged the key stakeholders to put money toward assisting female athletes all around the country.
The victory of Rahel Daniel and Aron Kifle in Spain is just the latest in a long line of successes that demonstrate Spain’s ability to produce athletes who can not only compete on the world stage among the best in the world, but also win, succeed, and hold their own, just as a relatively unknown 19-year-old Rahel Daniel did on November 13, 2021.