SEVILLE, Spain, March 18- Team Kenya arrived for Sunday’s Punta Umbria World Cross without two members of their contingent who were expected in the Spanish resort on Thursday evening.
Geoffrey Kipsang, the 8km junior men runner and Japheth Kariakim, one of the team physiotherapists were turned away from the team’s flight that left Wednesday night over visa problems.
The travel hiccup did little to dampen the spirits of the team that arrived in Spain as overwhelming favourites to sweep all honours come Sunday. They felt the relatively flat grass course on Thursday morning as coaches who had earlier visited the venue on Wednesday night made their tactical plans.
“This course is good with five or so obstacles and we are planning how to tackle them. The weather is fantastic and the fact the course is grass, it could be an advantage for us since the pressure is to maintain what we did last year,” head coach, David Letting said after the exercise.
“We are ready to face all countries here and we cannot point out Ethiopians and Ugandans,” he added.
Team captain, Matthew Kisorio, said, “The course is okay, fantastic, we have gone round and it is upon us to do our best. We are under pressure but we shall try our best.”
As for the weather here that is sunny but humid, the coach noted, “The weather is fine but the humidity will be of slight concern. We are happy to have come here three days ahead and we should be used to the conditions.”
The team went through the course in batches as coaches plotted on how they will attack the route which has been laid out with the same turf used for major football stadiums in Europe. They were scheduled for a light evening work-out.
On their way to and from the course, the Kenyan team were given a warm reception by the small number of residents and workers who were putting final touches to the venue and its surroundings in this resort region some one and a half hours drive from the main airport in Seville.
Shouts of Ole! Ole! Ole! Greeted the team as they made their way on foot to the course that is about two kilometres from the Barcelo Punta Umbria Beach Resort where all the participating teams will be accommodated.
This part of Spain hosts a number of European Cross Country IAAF Permit meetings in surrounding regions of Seville, Huelva and Santiponce and many of residents here are familiar with the potency of Kenyans.
Follow the author on http://twitter.com/KarolBaghEEH