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IT’S HISTORY AND RESEMBLANCE: Asbel rides on successes to anchor mixed relay in Kampala

ATHLETICS By JONATHAN KOMEN | February 23rd 2017
Asbel Kiprop of Kenya (2nd L) gestures after crossing the finish line first to win the men's 1500 metres final at the 15th IAAF Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China August 30, 2015. REUTERS

He banks on history as he gears up to anchor the mixed relay squad at the 42nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships set for Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala, Uganda, on March 26.

And Asbel Kiprop, the three-time world 1,500m champion, rides on the twin success of history and similarity.

The 26-year-old Asbel made his maiden international appearance at the 2007 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, where he won the junior title.

Like his father David Kebenei, fourth in 1,500m at the 1987 All Africa Games in Nairobi, he too started off competing internationally while competing at home.

Asbel is now back to cross country running, exactly ten years after winning the global title in Mombasa.

“I will go to St Marks Teachers Training College (in Kigari, Embu) for the residential camp. I like the place and I hope to tune up my form for the world cross country and prepare well to defend my title at the World Championships in London.

“The introduction of mixed relay by IAAF will help us a lot. I am an 800m and 1,500m and competing in the two kilometer loop boosts our preparations for the track season. I am sure we will perform well in Kampala. I wish IAAF re-introduces the 4km races. But more importantly, I get inspired a lot by my father,” he said.

He will join forces with Olympic 800m bronze medalist Margaret Nyairera (Prisons), Bernard Kipkorir (South Rift) and former Africa cross country bronze medalist Beatrice Chepkemoi of Police.

Still, history favours him. In 1990 former vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, then a cabinet minister, presented an award to his father David Kebenei after winning 1,500m at the national championships at Nyayo National Stadium.

And 20 years later, Kalonzo again presented Asbel gold medal after winning the 1,500m title at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships at Nyayo National Stadium.

“Such moments make me have big dreams. It’s rare thing to get in life. My father has a 3:36.47 personal best time in 1,500m,” he said.
Morocco’s world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj has always tipped him to break the 1,500m world record.

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