Kenya ready to hit hard at worlds

AFP, Tuesday 15 Mar 2011

Reigning champions Kenya are looking to complete a second successive clean sweep of medals at this weekend's world cross country championships in Punta Umbria, Spain


Such is the depth within the Kenyan team that selectors could afford to leave out all four individual title winners from Bydgoszcz last year, after they failed to qualify during national trials in Nairobi in February.

The team has been tuning up for the world championships in this Eastern provincial town of Embu for the past three weeks.

Newcomer and marathon specialist, Geoffrey Mutai, who won the national title in a time of 34:35.0, is expected to spearhead the men's challenge, in the absence of Joseph Ebuya, who became the first Kenyan man in 11 years to win the 12km in Poland last year.

"I wish the team all the best in Punta Umbria," said Ebuya.

"I liked the course very much. It is very flat, and I am sure our runners will also enjoy running there and win the medals."

Other members of the men's team include Matthew Kisorio and Vicent Kiprop Chepkok.

The women's side is led by two reigning world track champions - Linet Masai and Vivian Cheruiyot - who also competed at Punta Umbria in January, in a race won by Masai.

Masai, runner-up in 2009 and 2010, believes she can go one better this time.

"I have come close twice but lost. This year my game plan is different, as I have really improved on my finishing kick during the training," said the 21-year-old.

"I believe I have the strength to go all the way and win the title."

The Kenya team for the world championships:

Senior Men (12km):  Geoffrey Mutai, Matthew Kisorio, Vincent Kiprop, Hosea Macharinyang, Philemon Limo

Senior Women (8km):  Linet Masai, Vivian Cheruiyot, Prisca Jepleting, Pauline Korikwiang, Lineth Chepkurui, Sylvia Kibet

Junior Men (8km):  Isaiah Kiplagat, Justin Cheruiyot, Philemon Yator, Geoffrey Kipsang, James Gitahi, Patrick Mutunga

Junior Women (6km):  Janet Kisia, Jepkorir Kipkoech, Faith Chepngetich, Nancy Chepkwemoi, Naomi Chepngeno, Purity Cherotich


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