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D-DAY for stars: AK to pick world Cross Country squad

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | February 17th 2017
Vincent Yator (169) and Augustin Choge (349) controls the pack in 10000m finals during the Kenya Police athletics championship at Kasarani stadium on April 23, 2016. [PHOTO:DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD]

There will be no love lost when top guns lock horns at the IAAF Permit Meeting/National cross country trials at Uhuru Gardens, along Lang’ata Road, tomorrow morning.

There are many mouth-watering encounters on the cards as world cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor, a police corporal, lead fellow cops in staging arrests; Emmanuel Kipsang marshal Kenya Defence Forces troops while Africa 10,000m champion Alice Aprot, a prisons graduant from Ruiru Staff College, prepare to send to jail her opponents.

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 will aim for this.

Two more slots, for each of the four races and the relays, will be decided on coaches’ wild card into the Kenya’s team to the 42nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships that runs in Kampala, Uganda, on March 26.

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 Kampala, the pearl of President Yoweri Museveni.

Kamworor will anchor the police squad that has world cross country silver medallist Bedan Karoki, Japan-based Leonard Barsoton, world indoor bronze medallist Augustine Choge, Emmanuel Bett and James Kiptum, a member of the 2015 world cross country squad.

Kamworor said yesterday: “I am ready to face anyone. I really want to defend my title.”

But Mark Kiptoo, the Frankfurt Marathon winner, has sounded the war cry and is ready for opposition.

“I am ready for the trials. There are new names to challenge me, but I will not fear,” said Kiptoo.

Africa cross country junior silver medalist Andrew Lorot makes his debut in senior ranks and he will be keen to arrive with pride. But he has Abraham Kiptum,the Central Rift winner and Lagos Marathon champion last week, to content with.

World Cross Country champion Agnes Tirop will lead Irene Chebet Cheptai, the 2008 world cross country junior silver medallist, former Africa cross country champion Caroline Chepkoech, Lucy Cheruiyot and Pascalia Chepkorir, a member of world half marathon team to Cardiff, Wales, last year.

Others worth looking out for include former Commonwealth Youth Games 1,500m champion Stasy Ndiwa, two-time world cross country junior champion Viola Kibiwott and 2005 world junior 3,000m champion Veronica Nyaruai. But it will be a strong field, as the experienced athletes led by Chebet, Cheruiyot and Linet Chepkurui get all set to protect their turf.

They will take on youngsters in world cross country champion Faith Chepng’etich, Africa cross silver medalist Janeth Kisa and Sheila Chepng’etich, who has been in top form this season.

World Youth 1,500m Champion Sandra Felis Chebet and World Youth 3,000m silver medalist Davis Kiplang’at stand out in the junior races.

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