NAIROBI, Kenya, March 15-Kenya’s armada for Sunday’s Punta Umbria World Cross leaves for Spain on Wednesday night aiming to repeat their performance last year where they won all eight gold medals on offer.
The squad of 24 that has been under the tutelage of head coach, David Letting, leaves their St Mark’s Teachers Training College, Kigari base where they have been plotting their world domination for the past three weeks in the morning for Nairobi where sponsors Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) have laid out an elaborate farewell luncheon.
“They shall be hosted at Inter Continental Hotel and afterwards, we have made arrangements for them to relax at the YMCA Hostels in South C before we take them to the airport in the evening for their flight,” team Leader, Joseph Kinyua, who left for Spain, last night, told Capital FM.
Kenya selected the team after the IAAF Permit/KCB National Cross Country Championships held at Uhuru Gardens on February 19.
Rotterdam and Berlin marathon runner-up, Geoffrey Mutai (senior men 12km), world women 10000m gold medallist, Linet Masai (senior women 8km), world 3000m junior champion, Isaiah Kiplagat (men junior 8km) and unheralded Janet Kisia (junior women 6km) won at the selection double event for World and Africa Cross country championships.
“We are ready for the job ahead. Everyone in the team knows what to do and we cannot say much more. The course will decide,” Letting said Tuesday.
With the four World Cross champions, namely, Joseph Ebuya (senior men), Emily Chebet (senior women), Caleb Mwangangi (junior men) and Mercy Cherono (junior women) failing to hold down a place in the current team, the onus is on the 24 to ensure their successors will don the revered red, green and black strip come Sunday.
“The expectations are huge but we can cope with the pressure. We are only focused on our job and not thinking of what happened in the past,” the head coach asserted.
Apart from the controversial dropping of Leonard Patrick Komon, the 2008 World Cross senior silver winner, from the team by Athletics Kenya (AK) that raised a media storm, Letting and his charges have gone through their motions like still waters.
“This is the way we like it since the athletes can concentrate on their training and from what we have seen, everyone should not worry,” he added.
Paul Tanui, who won the Kenyan trials last year before finishing eighth in Poland was called to replace Komon, who until AK’s decision, was in line for a record breaking sixth World Cross appearance having made his debut in Fukuoka 2006.
“Tanui has integrated well into the squad and from his experience last year, he is in a good position to do well,” Letting said of the new call-up who attributed his second successive World Cross appearance as “An act of God.”
In addition to Mutai and Tanui, the men’s long race line-up also includes Matthew Kisorio, who made a comeback to the team since Edinburgh where he placed sixth as a junior. Mombasa 2007 junior silver winner, Vincent Chepkok, Hosea Mwok Macharinyang who will feature in his fifth World Cross and rookie Police officer, Philemon Limo complete the 12km squad.
PUNTA UMBRIA SQUAD
Junior Women 6km: Janet Kisa, Janet Jepkorir, Faith Chepng’etich, Nancy
Chepkwemoi, Naomi Chepng’eno and Purity Cherotich
Junior Men 8km: Isaiah Kiplagat, Justin Cheruiyot, Philemon Yator, Geoffrey Kipsang,
James Gitahi and Patrick Mutunga
Senior Women 8km: Linet Masai, Vivian Cheruiyot, Priscah Cherono, Sylvia Kibet,
Pauline Korikwiang and Lineth Chepkurui
Senior Men 12km: Geoffrey Mutai, Mathew Kisorio, Vincent Kiprop, Philemon Limo,
Hosea Macharinyang and Paul Tanui
Coaches: David Letting (head), John ‘Warm-up’ Mwithiga and Hezron Mutinda
Team Managers: Nicholas Matswai and Charles Obwogi (assistant)
Chaperone: Jane Bii
Physiotherapists: Peter Nduhiu and Japheth Kariakim
Media Liaison: Peter Angwenyi
Head Of Delegation: Joseph Kinyua
Sponsor’s Representative: Jane Pepeno
Government’s Rep: Jared Ambaka
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