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RIVALS SET FOR TOUGH CONTEST: Kamworor to lead stars at Uhuru Gardens

ATHLETICS By JONATHAN KOMEN | February 11th 2016
CROSS COUNTRY - 25TH DISCOVERY RACE. SPORTS Athlete Geoffrey Kamworor (3128) leads 10,000M specialist Bedan Karoki (3161) and 1500M World Champion Asbel Kiprop during the 25th edition of the Discovery Cross Country held at the Eldoret Sports Club. The race was won by Bedan Karoki in a time of 28.52.7. PHOTOS BY: KEVIN TUNOI Selected 1/1

The cream of Kenyan athletics will gather on Saturday morning at the cross-country venue – Uhuru Gardens – to clash in the most spectacular fashion imaginable.

The contest, which is the national cross country trials and an IAAF Permit Meeting, will be used to pick the team to the third Confederation of Africa Cross-Country gala in Younde, Cameroon, next month.

The showpiece, usually marked with selection controversies, promises a cocktail of hope and exciting intrigues.

Elite and young runners will be hankering after the prized tickets to the west Africa nation as they battle for honour, victory and, of course, disappointments.

A blunder from the start or getting tripped on the track could make the difference between victory and loss – the difference of a lifetime.

The clash between reigning world cross country champion Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor and silver medalist Bedan Karoki in men’s signature race – which has since been reduced to 10km from 12km – will certainly offer a sight to behold.

Then throw in Fred Musyoki of Prisons, seventh-placed at the Africa cross-country championships and Africa silver medalist Leonard Barsoton and the light-hearted will tremble.

Japan-based Barsoton now competing for National Police Service, would no doubt weather the storm when called upon on Saturday morning.

He will join forces with his training partner in Japan, Clement Lagat, the 2010 world cross country junior silver medalist, alongside 2013 national cross country champion Philemon Rono.

Peter Kurui and Joseph Kitur, who was in the Commonwealth Games 10,000m, are also itching for glory.

Kamworor, who started running as a pupil at Chepsamo Primary in Keiyo South, said he was ready to stop any aggression.

“I am well-prepared for the competition. I really want to make the team to the Africa cross country championships. That’s one of the championships in which I have not represented the country,” said Kamworor, an alumnus of Lelboinet Secondary School together with Kenyan-turned-Qatari Albert Chepkurui.

The police 12km team, which appears to intimidate other teams, need to be at their best in their bid to deny Prisons their bid to reclaim the men’s senior race title.

They will duck it out with Africa cross-country champion John Mwangangi, Cornelius Kangogo and Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Ndiku Muiya of Prisons.

Kenya Defence Forces are also out to reclaim their turf and will parade a star-studded field that include Emmanuel Kipsang, Stephen Arita, Hillary Kering and Hillary Maiyo. Uganda’s Isaac Kiprop, the 2014 World Mountain Running Champion and Soyekwo Kibet, a constant participant in local races, are expected to set adrenaline pulse racing.

Ethiopia’s Yigerem Demelash, the 2012 World Junior 10,000m champion, will compete in 10km alongside Vianney Ndiho, the Burundi champion Rwanda’s Felicien Muhitira and Beatha Nishimwe, last year’s Africa Youth 1,500metres champion.

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