Kenya is preparing a strong team for the 2021 Africa Cross Country Championships in Lome, Togo next month. The East African Nation recently held a tough national qualifying championship in the capital Nairobi that saw a number of new talents emerging from the muddy affair.
The Nairobi Ngong racecourse played host to Kenya’s 2021 National Cross Country Championships. At the end of a muddy, physically draining, and intense event where giants were slain, the squad that will represent Kenya at the C-A-A Africa Cross Country Championships in Lome, Togo, was selected.
From tens of starters across four races, 36 athletes made the cut for the Africa Cross Country on the 7th of March. World marathon champion, Ruth Chepng’etich who finished third in the women’s senior 10km race, was among the medallists. She will, however, not be part of those making the trip to Togo.
Ruth Chepng’etichWomen’s Marathon World Champion: “First of all I want to thank God for giving me the number three position. I am a marathoner so I was just trying so that I can get speed. So I thank God a lot. This course was tough because of water and lots of mud.”
The signature race of the day- the senior men’s 10-kilometer showdown- witnessed Rodgers Kwemoi upset titleholder Kibiwott Kandiae by two seconds to become the new champion.
He will now headline his country’s senior men’s squad after three-time World Cross titleholder, Geoffrey Kamworor and 2015 World Cross silver medallist, Bedan Karorey, dropped out of competition in the second lap.
“I was 100 percent and I was ready to be the winner of today. I was in good condition, I am going for the Africa cross country and I am going to win there,” Rodgers Kwemoi, Champion senior Men’s 10km.
In the mixed relay, world women 5,000 meters champion Hellen Obiri led her team to victory, continuing her rich form into the new year.
Obiri will, however, not be heading to Togo as she focuses on the forthcoming international track and field campaign where she is aiming to clinch a first Olympic title in the summer.
Hellen Obiri, World Women’s 5,000m Champion: “Next for me is going back to the build-up towards the Olympics because Diamond Leagues are starting in May, so I am targeting to run well during the races.”
In following its rich tradition, the Kenya National Cross unearthed new blood while acting as a graveyard to the ambitions of heavyweights such as Kamworor and Karorey.
Barnaba Korir, Meet Director, Kenya National Cross-Country Championship: “This was really good and I am really happy about the organization and you see when we say cross-country, this is a real cross country today because of the rain the course itself is muddy you can see how difficult it was, someone like Kamworor did not finish the race because of such conditions. There are new athletes that came out very strongly and it shows that Kenya has an abundance of athletes.”
Athletics Kenya believes the team it selected at Ngong will continue the country’s dominance at the biannual continental event to lay a solid platform for another glorious year.