KENYAN TEAM LEAVES FOR POLAND, by Justin Lagat
A few hours before they left for Poland, after a dinner drawn for them at the Eka hotel in Nairobi, Isaiah Kiplagat, who is the Athletics Kenya (AK) president, expressed his optimism that the national cross country team will stage a good performance at the world championships scheduled for this Sunday in Bydgoszcz. He allayed fears that because the team consists mostly of new athletes they are bound to perform dismally by assuring the Kenyan fans that the criteria used in selecting the team was good and that the best training program was also conducted at the training camp.
Kenya has managed to win 24 titles in the past 26 editions and they are hoping to continue their supremacy this Sunday. Ethiopia has always been her main rival and the fact that there is a stellar field from this country this time round means the competition will definitely be a tough one for the Kenyan athletes.
However, one of the more experienced runners in the team, Timothy Kiptoo, assured the fans that there is nothing to fear concerning the seemingly formidable team from Ethiopia. He said the Kenyan team, despite being composed mostly of new athletes, actually battled it out with some of the world's greatest runners during their trials and emerged winners. Joseph Ebuya, John Mwangangi, Leornard Komon and Bidan Karoki are some of the great runners who turned out for the trials, but failed to secure slots to represent the country. He pointed out that it is not unusual for new stars to rise in Kenya every time because the country teems with so much talent.
Uganda is another country that seems to have assembled a strong team for the championships. They include Moses Kipsiro, Phillip Kiplimo, Fred Arapsudi, Timothy Toroitich, Geoffrey Kusuro and Kibet Soyekwo in their senior men's team. Soyekwo, who managed to win an AK meeting in Eldoret this January, to me, will be an athlete to watch out for.
Emily Chebet, who won the title in 2010, will be a great hopeful to win a gold medal for Kenya in the senior women's race. She says that she is now completely healed from an ankle injury that had been slowing her and believes that together with her team mates, they will win the team title.
While it is difficult to make a strong prediction for all the other categories, I am sure everyone will settle for one athlete in the junior women's race: Faith Chepng'etich.
This girl has been doing marvelous in all her races in the last few years, often beating even the senior runners in the 1500m races. She definitely will be running in a class of her own, now that she will be running against her fellow junior athletes. If she will wake up feeling well on the day, then I can bet that she will win the junior women's race.
Kenya's junior men are mostly new faces, but judging from the showdown at the trials in Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi, they are a formidable team too.
The head coach, Sammy Ronoh, said that all the athletes were in perfect physical health as they left for Poland.
Kenya's dismal performance at the London Olympics was attributed to the bad weather.The weather in Bydgoszcz has been mostly cold and snowy this week, but weather forecasters project fairer weather for Sunday. We can only wait to see what will happen there.
Below is the Kenyan team that departed on Wednesday night for the championships:
Senior men's 12km -- Philemon Rono, Timothy Kiptoo, Geoffrey Kirui, Hosea Macharinyang, Jonathan Muia, Japheth Korir.
Senior women's 8km -- Margaret Muriuki, Irene Cheptai, Janet Kisa, Emily Chebet, Beatrice Chepkemoi, Viola Kibiwott.
Junior men's 8km -- Ronald Kwemoi, Leonard Barsoton, Moses Mukono, Emmanuel Bett, Conseslus Kipruto, Michael Bett.
Junior women's 6km -- Faith Chepng'etich, Agnes Chebet, Roseline Chepngetich, Caroline Chepkoech, Sheila Chepngetich, Pauline Kaveke.