NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 30 – Athletics Kenya (AK) are exploring the option of inviting some of the members of the team to the World Cross Country Championships for this Saturday’s Sirikwa Classic Cross Country Tour in Eldoret.
AK’s director of youth development subcommittee Barnaba Korir said they are negotiating with the leadership of the team, which is in residential camp at Kigari Teachers Training College, to have the likes of former world half marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor and Commonwealth Games 5000m champion Beatrice Chebet fly the national flag at Lobo village – the venue for Saturday’s World Cross Country Tour Gold event.
“We are still negotiating with the leadership of the team and to get approval from the president (of AK), if it is possible for some of the team members, like Kamworor and Beatrice Chepkoech (World 3000m steeplechase record holder) and Chebet to compete in this event on Saturday,” Korir said.
Kamworor is a three-time world half marathon champion having clinched the titles in 2014 (Copenhagen), 2016 (Cardiff) and 2018 (Valencia).
His last appearance for the country in a cross country competition was at the 2019 World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark where he won bronze in the senior men’s race.
On the other hand, Chebet won gold in the junior women’s race at the same competition, following on from her World Under 20 5000m title in Tampere, Finland in 2018.
Aarhus was a good outing for Chepkoech as well as she came third in the senior women’s race to clinch bronze.
Commenting further on the possible inclusion of the trio for the Sirikwa Classic, Korir added that the event would be a good opportunity for the athletes to prepare themselves for next month’s World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia.
“It is still under discussion with the federation. If they agree, then we think that running in the Sirikwa Classic will be a good way for these athletes to prepare themselves for the World Cross Country Championship that is next month,” he said.
This is the second edition of the World Cross Country Tour Gold event in the country.
The first one was held at the same venue in February last year and was named Agnes Tirop Memorial Cross Country Tour in honour of the 2019 World 10,000m bronze medalist who made history as the second-youngest winner of the senior women’s world cross country title in 2015 in Guiyang, China.
Tirop passed away earlier in October 2021 following what is believed to be a domestic wrangle that led to her being stabbed at their home in Iten.
Huge foreign contingent
Other top Kenyan athletes who have already confirmed to be on the start list include the 2021 World Under 20 5000m champion Benson Kiplangat, World Under 20 1500m champion Reynold Kipkorir and Ezekiel Mutai.
Korir confirmed that the event expects a huge foreign contingent including entries from East African neighbours Uganda and Tanzania, Eritrea as well as from Sweden, Estonia, Great Britain, Norway, Germany, Slovenia, Bahrain, Qatar, and Romania.
“This is just but a summary of the few…there are those who are still confirming and by Wednesday we should be able to know the total number of those who will be competing on Saturday,” Korir said.
The event will begin with a 1km kids’ race featuring boys and girls aged 6-14 years old, followed by the under 18 and under 20 boys 8km and girls’ 6km race.
This will be followed by a veterans’ march before the senior women’s and men’s race in that order, to conclude the activities of the day.