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After muddy showdown, it’s heartbreak for top athletes

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | February 26th 2021
KDF's Kibiwott Kandie lead pac followed by Police's Geoffrey Kamworor at Ngong Racecourse during AK/LOTTO National Cross Country championships cum trials for Africa Cross Country championships 2021. Saturday Feb 13, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

It’s strange how fortunes and misfortunes can conspire. For some, it was a blessing in disguise while for others it was heartbreak.

The cancellation of Africa cross country championships, which was set for Lome in Togo on March 11, has sparked off different talking points.

It is a missed opportunity for some athletes like Kibiwott Kandie, the world half marathon record holder, who could have made his debut in the national team.

The postponement of the competition dealt a big blow to three athletes who had qualified last year only for the contest to be cancelled following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

They are Africa junior 3,000m champion Gideon Rono, Olympic Youth 3,000m silver medalist Agnes Jebet and Ismael Kirui, who was in the Under-18 men’s line-up.

Rono, a Form Three student at Sinonin Secondary School in Baringo County, was in a class of his own during the national trials and hoped to bag another continental title in the West African nation.

10KM senior men race during National Cross country championship at Ngong Race course ahead of Africa Cross country championships to be held in Togo. Feb 15, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Jebet, 19, is among the stars that have graduated into senior category. She is a Form Four student at Kapkenda Girls High School in Keiyo South and was to compete in the senior race.

Jebet won silver in 3,000m during the Youth Olympics in Argentina in 2018 before finishing second at the 2018 Africa junior Cross Country Champion in Algeria. She is also a two-time East Africa junior champion.

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The decision to push forward the contest was a huge blow to four athletes from Tiloa Primary and Tiloa Secondary schools in Nakuru County, who were in the team.

When the season went off last year over the coronavirus, they trained hard and nursed huge dreams of representing the country – and they made it. Their dreams have now been pushed to next year.

They are KCPE candidates Purity Chepkurui and Mercy Chepkemoi, Judy Kemunto (Standard Seven) and Sheila Chepkirui, a Form One student.

On the other hand, it was a blessing in disguise for KCPE and KCSE candidates in the Africa cross-country team.

Paul Mutwii, Athletics vice president in charge of competitions, said 10 athletes – who are set to sit their national examinations – were yet to report to the camp in Kigari.

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