Over 200 top athletes will be looking to bag six slots at trials

By Denis Okeyo: Tuesday, February 12th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Sports

Stage is set for what promises to be a bruising battle during the national cross country trials, in Eldoret, on February 13.

With almost 200 athletes seeking the much sought-after six slots to the national team, four upcoming runners stand out as the athletes to beat in the under-20 6km women race.

Beatrice Chebet leads women's 6km race during the AK Cross Country Championships at Post Grounds. [Dennis Okeyo]

One of the top performers to watch out for is 19-year-old Beatrice Chebet, who has already made a name for herself.

Chebet became the first Kenyan woman to win the 5,000m title in the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland last year and will lead the chase for the limited tickets.

Others runners with awesome credentials include World Under-18 800m silver medallist Lydia Jeruto, Youth Olympics 3,000m silver medallist Mercy Chepkorir and promising Enit Yeko, winner at the Nairobi cross country championships last weekend.

Chebet, who trains in Keringet under the guidance of Paul Kemei, said she is ready to take on her peers at the Eldoret race.

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“I believe I have done my preparations well ahead of the trials and I will be deploying my tactics to win in the national trials. I expect good competition,” she said after winning the Discovery cross country two weeks ago.  

Chepkorir, a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidate at Kaliet ‘A’ Primary School and winner of AK Kisii cross country meet, believes she has the ability to win the national junior title and make the Kenyan team to the world showpiece in Aarhus, Denmark, on March 30.

“I’m aware of the level of competition expected at the national trials but I have trained well and I have posted good results in cross country buildups, so I will use that experience to get into the podium in Eldoret,” said Chepkorir.

After reigning supreme at Nairobi cross country, Yego will be up against more experienced runners, but the 18-year-old, who hails from Mount Elgon, says she ready for the challenge.

“I know a few runners, who have world titles under their belts but I will just run my own race and I’m confident of finishing within the top six,” said Yego, who finished sixth in the Prisons Cross country championships.

Zenah Chemutai, also a KCPE candidate at Keringet Boarding School, is another athlete to look out for.

She was fourth in women’s 3000m finals at World Under-20 in Tampere.   

Kenya has lost the last two World Junior cross country women titles to their rivals Ethiopia with Faith Chepngetich winning the last title in 2013, in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Chepngetich, now 25, went on to become the Under-20 1,500m world and Olympics 1,500m champion.  

Another successful outing for the Kenyan junior women was in 2010 in Bydgoszcz when Mercy Cherono, Purity Rionoripo and Esther Chemutai swept the podium.