NAIROBI, Kenya, January 12- Triple world champion, Vivian Cheruiyot and thrice World Cross silver winner, Linet Masai, will be the most notable absentees at Saturday’s Kenya Police Inter-Provincial Cross Country Championships at Nairobi’s Ngong Racecourse.
Cheruiyot is slotted to instead star at the IAAF Permit Cross Country in Seville, Spain a day later and will also not feature at the March 18 Africa Cross Country Championships in South Africa.
Masai who won the senior women title last year in a thrilling sprint finish battle with Cheruiyot, is currently in a special speed training camp in America.
Police head coach, Nicholas Kilisio, told Capital FM on Thursday the star duo will however, be included in their line-up for the February 18 IAAF Permit/Athletics Kenya National Cross Country Championships,
Moses Kiplagat, Cheruiyot’s spouse and trainer, confirmed that Cheruiyot left the country on Wednesday and will limit her appearances on the cross circuit this season as she bids to complete an Olympics distance double in the summer.
“Unlike last year where she was eager to compete at the World Cross, this season we have opted not to concentrate on the Africa Cross. We are planning to have a measured build-up to the Olympics where she is targeting to repeat her performance in Daegu,” Kiplagat told.
On the return of double Beijing Olympics winner and record holder, Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, to competitive action after an injury plagued 2011 season that saw her skip the Daegu Worlds, Kiplagat averred the Cheruiyot corner was not fazed.
“To her, the return of Tirunesh is welcome competition since one needs to compete against the very best to be considered a great. We are preparing to get her in the best shape to win, not to beat anyone,” he added.
The Police Cross championships marked the last time Cheruiyot saw the back of a competitor in a milestone 2011 that started with a first senior women World Cross title in Punta Umbria before her 5,000m and 10,000m double winning act in Daegu.
In between, she did enough to retain her 3,000m/5,000m Samsung Diamond League title but was controversially denied the IAAF Female Athlete of the Year Award in Monaco.
Despite the absence of the disciplined force most eminent female athletes, the event has a deep field sparkling with quality in the two races on the cards.
In the men’s 12km, New York and Boston Marathon champion, Geoffrey Mutai, who won the 12km long race at the event last year, returns to face a back breaking line-up featuring Africa 5,000m champion, Vincent Yator, Lucas Rotich, the 2009 World Cross junior bronze winner and Titus Mbishei, the 2008 10,000m silver winner among others.
Mutai is penned for a defence of his New York crown on April 16 and is strongly tipped to be selected in the London Olympics probables line-up on Monday.
World marathon titleholder, Edna Kiplagat will duel with among others, Africa Cross champion, Mercy Cherono as well as fresh recruits Janet Kisia who won the junior national title last year and Esther Chemutai.