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Kimaru, Loibach race to victory as World Cross squad is picked

 Grace Loibach wins the senior women 10km race during the Athletics Kenya Cross Country Championships led in Ruiru yesterday. [Courtesy]

Sebastian Kimaru and Grace Loibach stunned a strong field to win the senior men and women 10km races and in the process book slots in Kenya's team for the World Cross Country Championships set for February 18 in Bathurst, Australia.

The duo booked their tickets after dominating the national trials held yesterday at the Kenya Prisons Staff Training College in Ruiru.

Kapsabet-based Kimaru produced a killer kick with one kilometre to go to win the men race in 28:22.5 as Daniel Simiu settled for second place in 28:28.0.

Former world half marathon record holder Kibiwott Kandie finished third in 28:30.3 ahead of Emmanuel Kiprop of Kenya Defence Forces, who returned 28:31.8.

Others who made the men's team include Nicholas Kipkorir and seasoned cross country, track and road runner Geoffrey Kamworor.

Front-running Loibach (32:32.3) took control of the women's race with two laps covered and beat Edinah Jebitok and 2017 World Cross Country champion Irene Cheptai to second and third places in 32:37.1 and 32:53.3 respectively.

Loibach, Jebitok and Cheptai will be accompanied by Agnes Jebet, Viola Chepngeno, Emily Chebet and Beatrice Chebet, who received a wildcard from the panel of selectors after failing to finish the race due to illness.

"I have a strong team in Jebitok and Cheptai, who should guide me well in training," said Loibach, who is making her national team debut.

World Under-20 3,000metre steeplechase champion Faith Cherotich won the junior women's race as she sets sight on another global title.

Cherotich will partner Sheila Chebet, who was second in 19:32.8 alongside Joyline Chepkemoi (19:35.5). Others in the team are Nancy Cherop, Marion Chepngetich and Diana Cherotich.

Ismael Kirui from Torongo Club will spearhead the men's Under-20 team after producing a dominant performance to win his category.

Kirui, who also won the Athletics Kenya Cross Country Series in Machakos, Kapsokwony and Ol Kalou, timed 23:02.9.

"I failed to make the 5,000m team for the Under-20 World Championships in Cali because of a leg injury but I feel okay now," Kirui said.

Kirui will team up with Raynold Kiprono, the world Under-20 1500m champion, Dennis Kipkirui, Raphael Dabash, Gideon Kipngetich and Charles Rotich.

World Athletics Under-20 Championships medallist Emmanuel Wanyonyi and Brenda Chebet will lead Kenya's charge in mixed relays.

Others include Miriam Cherop, Beatrice Chepkoech, Daniel Munguti, Mathew Kipsang and Abel Kipsang.

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