NAIROBI, Kenya, March 14 – Team Kenya departed for Uganda on Friday on a mission to complete a gold medal sweep when they line up for the Africa Cross Country Championships at the Kololo Grounds in Kampala on Sunday.
Francis Afudi, the team manager told Capital Sport at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that his charges were out to replicate their performance at the 2011 edition in South Africa where the country won eight out of eight gold medals.
The team won six out of eight with Ethiopia taking the junior men individual honours and junior women team honours in their first showing at the continental showpiece having skipped the 2011 running.
“Our target is to sweep all medals because we are familiar with the climate though we expect competition from our perennial rivals Ethiopia, South Africa and hosts Uganda since most Kenyans have migrated to the neighboring country,” the team manager added.
Reigning World Cross junior women titleholder, Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon, will make her debut for her country as a senior in cross country with the hopes of an entire nation once again vested in her young shoulders.
World Cross champion, Emily Chebet and Jemimah Sumgong, the 2012 Boston Marathon runner-up, dropped out from the squad earlier this week with Bydgoszcz 2010 World Cross runner, Alice Aprot and Edith Chelimo taking their slots in the Kampala squad. Peris Chepchirchir and Punta Umbria World Cross fifth finisher in the junior race, Janet Kisa, completing the women 8km long race squad.
In the absence of two-time National Champion, Bedan Karoki in the men 12km race, World Cross junior silver medallist, Leonard Barsoton, who graduated this year, has the task of cementing his reputation by scaling the continental heights.
Karoki opted out of Kampala as he prepares for his London Marathon debut in April and won the Worlds’ Best 10K race in Puerto Rico on February 23 in 28:35.
Moses Mukono, who bagged the domestic series jackpot before winning the national crown is the stud in the men junior 8km race with equally storming World Cross junior silver medallist, Agnes Chebet, who inherited the slot vacated by Chepng’etich, remains unbeaten this year in the junior women 6km race.
At the last edition, Kenya collected nine individual medals (three gold, silver and bronze) with Chepg’etich winning the junior race. Kenya also bagged three team gold medals in the senior men and women races as well as junior men.
The team is expected to jet back on Monday.