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Kenya plots to sweep medals at World cross country in Kampala 

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya has ruled the World Cross Country Championships in all the four editions held in Africa. That trend is not about to end as the team takes their title challenge to Kampala, Uganda on Saturday.

Head coach Juma Ndiwa, himself a former 800 meters runner, who represented the country in World Championships and Olympics, said there is every sign that the team will rule the roost in the Ugandan capital. It will also be the fifth time the championships will be hosted by Africa after Rabat in 1975, Johannesburg in 1996, Marrakech in 1998 and Mombasa in 2007.

Kenya team, which has pitched camp in Embu, will be leaving Nairobi for Kampala on Thursday with only one mission, to write history as the ultimate winners before the event moves to Europe, Asia and America.

“Come and watch this team in Kampala. We have the best talent, athletes who are hungry to excel despite their numerous accolades on the international scene. They will not disappoint.

“This does not however, mean that we are overlooking the opponents. It is a competition and everyone has a target to win. But I believe my team has the hunger and strength to go the extra mile to make sure we have the medals in our vault,” said Ndiwa.

Kenya faces daunting task especially in the senior races as Ethiopia and host Uganda plan to oust them from the throne. However, national women champion Irene Cheptai, who will be leading from the front has sounded the war tune and thrown down the gauntlet.

“We have the best squad and though they are serious in their attempt to stop us, it is going to be real war on that course,” she said.

Cheptai will team up with defending champion Agnes Tirop, 1,500m Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon, Lillian Kasait, world 3,000 meters steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng and Africa 10,000 meters champion Alice Aprot.

“What makes this team tick is not the individual talent each possess, but the spirit of team work. The team is strong and the training is helping us each day. We will help one another to succeed. We are hoping to get all the medals,” said Kipyegon

Over 600 athletes from 54 countries and regions are expected to compete in Kampala, the highest number of countries and regions represented at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships since 2009.

Kenya has topped the medal tables at four of the past five editions, but its rivalry with Ethiopia is expected to remain fierce. The two nations split the four individual titles in 2015 at two apiece, while Ethiopia captured 11 medals in all to Kenya’s nine.

Host Uganda is also expected to wage a strong battle for both individual and team crowns, with Eritrea and Bahrain also likely to play key roles in several of the medal fights. Others expected in the mix for team medals include Turkey, the United States, Japan, and Great Britain and Northern Ireland.



Injured Kimetto not giving up on career, pledge to come back strong

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- World marathon record holder Dennis Kimetto of Kenya is not considering hanging up his spikes even as he succumbed to another injury that will see him miss the Boston marathon on April 17.

Kimetto, 33, has not competed since his dismal performance at the Beijing World Championships in 2015. It has been one injury crisis after another, but he believes he still has got the strength left in his sail to deliver a big victory when he gets fit.

“I am not giving up. I am not taking it easy. Very sad not to go to Boston marathon, but I’m confident to be back. One step back, two steps in front,” said Kimetto Monday in Eldoret.

Kimetto, who had overcome an ankle injury, has been forced to stop his training after he slid in training and injured his knee over the weekend. He posted pictures of his injured knee on his official twitter account, which showed a big cut.

“This is what happened to me. I fell down with my knee and it needed to be stitched. Scanning showed nothing damaged,” he said.

Speaking from Eldoret on Monday, Kimetto, who holds the world record at 2:02:57, the only man to have run the 42km distance under 2:03:00, said his record may not stand for long.

Nike announced that three of its athletes would seek to run a sub-two-hour marathon in April. Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge is training for the sub-two attempt. There is also Ethiopian Boston champion Lelisa Desisa and world half marathon world record-holder Zersenay Tadese.

However, the trio will be running on a Formula One circuit in Italy with IAAF saying it will not recognize the record, at least not for now if it is broken.

“I know there are efforts to have someone break the record and under two hours. It is not as easy as it sounds. It requires a lot of efforts and everything must be perfect. Hopefully the team from Nike will succeed but I know it is no easy task,” he said.

Kimetto last competed for Kenya at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China but failed to finish the race citing high temperatures. But he has seen his career stall with injuries creeping in for the last two years limiting his performances globally.

Kimetto holds the marathon record at 2:02:57 in Berlin 2014. He is also a winner of Tokyo, Chicago and Berlin marathons.



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