NAIROBI, Kenya, March 30 –Fresh from winning the IAAF senior men World Cross title, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor is aiming to add a 10,000m World Championships crown to his honours, on the track this summer.
The Half Marathon champion declared on Monday when the team arrived to a warm reception at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from Guiyang, China where they finished second behind rivals Ethiopia after collecting two individual gold and junior men team title, against two individual and three team titles.
Family and friends who awaited them for over four hours, burst to song, cheer and dance as is custom when the team emerged from the tunnel to be welcomed by Sports Commissioner Gordon Oluoch and Athletics Kenya officials.
The team was taken to a victory tour where the caravan snaked through Mombasa Road, Jogoo Road, Central Business District before turning to Lang’ata Road where they were hosted to a luncheon by the federation.
Almost a year after winning his first senior global title at the 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Kamworor got the Kenyan national anthem played in his honour once again at one of the biggest events in the sport when he completed the twisting, hilly and difficult Guiyang course in 34:52, eight seconds ahead of compatriot Bedan Karoki who took silver.
“I feel great being crowned champion because I had high expectations. Our aim was to defend the title and win silver, that’s why Karoki and I helped each other to burn the Ethiopians. When we remained the two of us it was now any ones race.
“I’ve won the World Cross and World Half Marathon so I’m now targeting to win the 10,000m in Beijing. I was happy to be invited to the sales of tickets of the World Championships to see the venue, that motivated me to work harder,” Kamworor who will gauge his fitness at Prefontaine Classic IAAF Diamond League in May underscored.
Kamworor will be looking to reclaim the title last won by Charles Kimathi 15years ago, the feat that evaded legendary Paul Tergat who won five successive World Cross titles and held world marathon record from 2003 to 2007.
Tergat settled for silver at 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney World Championships after memorable battles over 25 laps with the Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie who won gold in both events.
Kamworor, doesn’t need to worry about a qualifying time, with the top 15 in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships having an automatic qualifying mark for the 10,000m in Beijing, but he does want to produce a performance that will establish him as a legitimate medal contender on a surface in the June National Trials.
Karoki on the other hand was content with silver despite beating Kamworor at the National Championships held in Nairobi February.
“I’m very happy to finish in the podium because this was my first World Cross and I had tension since I’m the national champion. The Ethiopians kept us on toes but our team work helped us contain them.
“In the last lap we opened the gap to compete amongst ourselves but I couldn’t make it because I used a lot of energy in the opening three laps but Kamworor had a strong kick.
“I will run one half marathon for endurance then go for either 3000m or 5000m in the Diamond League before competing at the World Championships trials in the 10,000m,” Karoki stated.
-Tirop eyes worlds-Women’s 8km champion, Agnes Tirop who graduated to the senior ranks in style, said he did not expect to win gold in the race that had experienced runners, including defending champion and compatriot Emily Chebet.
“The win came as a surprise but thank God for it. I will go back to training to maintain the shape and God willing I will try my lack at 5000 world championships trials.”
Chebet who failed to enter into history books as the third woman in history to win the coveted women’s long race title thrice in the footsteps of Norwegian legend and five-time winner, Grete Waitz and three-time winner, Ethiopian titan, Tirunesh Dibaba said she will bounce back in 2017.
“The race was good though was cold and hilly but I can’t complain because we were running as a team. It’s disappointing to lose the title but I’m happy it was won by a Kenyan so we are all winners. I will now prepare for Beijing World Championships and try to win the 10,000m,” Chebet, commonly known as Kericho express told Capital Sport.
Head coach, David Letting who hailed his charges for the performance said in-experience cost them in the women junior race where Ethiopia scooped a podium sweep.
“It was the best performance because winning gold and silver in the senior men it’s not a joke and it has not been done before by Kenyans.
“When you go to a race its either you win or lose, Ethiopians were too super for our girls who were young with only one who had competed in the event before.
“We missed Faith Chepng’etich who was ruled out after picking injury in training because it was supposed to be 1- 2.”
His sentiments were echoed by Daisy Jepkemoi who finished fourth.
“The race was difficult, Ethiopians were too good but I did my best. In the last lap I thought my team-mates were behind me, only to realize they were all Ethiopians, I didn’t get any support. I’m now focusing for the next event in Uganda.”