NAIROBI, Kenya, February 18 – A stellar cast of 416 athletes will battle it out for places in this year’s World Cross Country championships team at the national cross country championships at Ngong racecourse on Saturday.Twenty seven athletes from Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana and Sri Lanka will also take part in the championships which also act as the trials for the host nation and it will be a tough task as the athletes fight it out for the 27 available places for the World event scheduled for March 28 in Amman Jordan.
Reigning World silver medallist Leonard Komon, national champion Gideon Ngatuny, World 10,000 metres bronze medallist Martin Mathathi, Moses Mosop, Thomas Longosiwa and Mark Kiptoo will be the men to watch in the men’s 12 kilometre race.
In the senior women’s race, last year’s winner Grace Momanyi will be looking to reassert herself after her unceremonial removal from the Beijing team. She will however have to contend with the rising stars led notably by Pauline Korikwiang and for mer Wolrd Junior champion Linet Masai.
In the junior boys’ race, 10,000 metres World Junior champion Josephat Bett will be the heavy favourite with Titus Mbishei expected to also be in the reckoning while in the women’s race, Mercy Cherono, Chepet Cheptai, Christine Kambua Muyanga and Jackline Chebii will be favourites to make the team.
Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat said Wednesday that the team will train in Kigari as is tradition despite earlier reports that the team would train in Taita Taveta.
“We wanted to train in Taita but we have received information that the temperatures in Jordan will be about 18 degrees and that they will pour water on the track to make it muddy so we decided to take the team to Embu as is tradition,” he said.
Selected athletes will be expected to report to camp on Monday for a month long camp.
According to the selection criteria, the first four athletes across the line will automatically make the team with the other two being decided by the panel of selectors.
The championships will start at 8 am with the junior women 6km race followed by the junior boys’ race. The senior women’s 8K race will then follow with the men’s 12k race bringing the curtains down.
Winners of the senior men and women categories will earn Sh50,000 each while the first runners up will take home Sh30,000. The cash prizes will trickle all the way down to tenth position.
In the junior categories, the entry forms will have to be accompanied by proof of age i.e. copies of birth certificates, passports, letters from head teachers properly signed and stamped, baptism certificates, notification of births and any other relevant document.
The dates of birth for the junior will be strictly vetted before the athlete entered is allowed to participate. If any affiliate is found to have entered an old or underage athlete in the junior categories, then a severe disciplinary action will be taken against the affiliate concerned.
Doping will also be conducted by the appointed authorities and should co-operate when picked for same.