Kamworor and Obiri lead big shots at National Cross Country Trials

By Jonathan Komen and Dennis Okeyo: Friday, February 14th 2020 at 10:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
Hellen Obiri on her way to victory in the 10km Senior women race at the National Cross Country Championships held at the Eldoret Sports Club on February 23, 2019. [STAFFORD ONDEGO]

There will be no love lost when top guns lock horns at the national cross country trials at Ngong Racecourse tomorrow.

There are plenty mouth-watering clashes on the cards as two-time world cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor leads police squad in staging arrests.

Then there’s Alfred Barkach, who will marshal Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops, while two-time world under-20 3,000m steeplechase champion Celliphine Chespol, a prisons wardress, prepares to send her opponents to jail.

It will hardly come as a surprise to the athletes over sudden loss of love and affection as they battle for 16 automatic slots for the first four to cross the line and every athlete longs to finish within the bracket.

Athletics Kenya will use the showpiece to pick a team to Africa cross country championships in Lome, Togo, On April 8.

After years of playing the understudy, a legion of young athletes, who have graduated into the senior ranks, are threatening to seize the moment and secure the prized tickets to west Africa.

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The contest has over the years been billed as a battleground for the disciplined forces –police, Kenya Defence Forces and Kenya Prisons –but the emergence of new stars from South Rift and Central Rift regions sets adrenaline pulse-racing.

Police have dominated the charts and a lot is expected as Kamworor and world 5000m silver medallist Margaret Chelimo lead the onslaught.

Josphat Bett, Hosea Kimosop, Emmanuel Bett and Philemon ‘Baby Police’ Rono are other stars to watch.

Chelimo will join forces with Sheila Chelagat and Commonwealth Games 10,000m silver medallist Stacy Ndiwa.

Policewomen squad is keen to wrest the title from Hellen Obiri of KDF who won the world cross country title in Aarhus, Denmark, last year.

New talents in prisons line up are also expected to pose a major threat this year. They feature youngsters in Loice Chemining, the 2020 prisons cross country champion, Sandra Felis Chebet, the 2015 world under-18 2000m steeplechase silver medallist Lilian Kasait, African Games 5000m reigning champion Abigail Chelang’at and Nancy Nzisa.

Charles Muneria Yosei will fly Prisons’ men team that has Emmanuel Ngatuny, Geoffrey Korir, Luke Kibet, the 2007 world marathon champion.

World half marathon record holder Joyceline Jepkosgei, Joyce Chepkemoi, Dorcas Kimeli and Irene Kimais will lead the KDF squad.  

Two-time KDF cross country champion Kandie Kibiwot of Embakasi Barracks will anchor KDF men’s squad. Others are Alfred Barakach Moi of Air Base and Phenus Kipleting.

National cross country champion Amos Kirui will lead the South Rift. He will be up against fast-rising Nicholas Kimeli, Robert Kiprop, Josphat Kipchirchir and Evans Keitany.

Last week, Athletics Kenya received Sh8 million sponsorship boost for the event from Lotto Foundation ahead of the national cross country championships.

Men and women’s junior races comprises largely of athletes drawn from 14 camps set by Athletics Kenya ahead of world under 20 championships scheduled for Kasarani Stadium on July 7-12.

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