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Kamworor charged for title defense in Kampala

Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, winner of the 2014 world half marathon title in Copenhagen.PHOTOFILE/IAAF

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Reigning World Cross Country champion Geoffrey Kamworor is confident he will defend his title when he gets down to the Kololo Independence Ground in Kampala, Uganda for the 2017 edition on Sunday afternoon.

Kamworor, also the World Half Marathon Champion finished third in the national championship on February 18 but he reckons he has worked in training to bridge the gap in fitness and ensure he is ready for his title defense.

“So far I have prepared well and the training has been quite intense. I am more than determined to defend my title and I know by the time I get to Kampala, I will be in good shape,” the 25-year old told Capital Sport.

He says he is under no pressure, but maintains competition will be tough from his own teammates, Ethiopians and naturalized Kenyans now running for different countries in the gulf and the United States of America.

“Normally there’s a lot of pressure when you are the defending champion because everyone is looking at you but I am not under any pressure because I have prepared well and done my best in training and ready to fight with anyone,” Kamworor confidently stated.

The two-time World Half Marathon champion is coming off an injury period that saw him perform below expectation at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he finished a distant 11th in the men’s 10,000m.

But he says he has regained top form and will be at his best as he seeks both an individual as well as a team gold medal in Kampala. Kenya lost the team title to Ethiopia in Guiyang, China during the last championship in 2015, but Kamworor is confident the team is strong enough to reclaim the throne.

“We have a good group going to Kampala and if we all work hard and as a team, I know we can do it. Everyone is looking forward to that,” he added.

Leonard Barsoton crosses the finish line to win the Kenya National Cross Country Championship senior men’s race at the Uhuru Gardens on February 18, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Also in the Kenyan team is national champion Leonard Barsoton who finished fifth in Guiyang and 2008 silver medalist Leonard Komon who is also the team captain.

Barsoton who was crowned African champion on the same Kololo Ground back in 2014 has warned he will not be merely going to make numbers but compete.

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“It is some kind of good luck maybe that I won in Uganda in 2014 and now I am headed back there. Finishing fifth in Guiyang was painful because I wanted a medal and now I have an opportunity to make it right. I am charged up to do my best but more so, ensure we reclaim the team title,” Barsoton opined.

The team is excited that the World Championships will be held near home and they say they will be encouraged with a ‘home ground’ advantage feel.

“We are running close to home and the weather is the same with Embu where we have been training. I think that will make us more comfortable and give us a slight advantage,” Kamworor said ahead of the championship.

The team is scheduled to leave for Kampala on Friday afternoon and will have an opportunity to train on the course on Saturday ahead of the Sunday championship.

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