World School Cross Country: Kenya prove too good for rest of the world

Kenya's Diana Chepkemoi celebrate after winning the U18 Category during the second edition of the ISF World School Cross Country Championship at Ngong Racecourse. May 12, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya proved too good to the world by sweeping top accolades in all the six categories contested at the 24th edition of the World School Cross Country Championship held at the Ngong Race Course in Nairobi on Sunday.

The dazzling hosts also dethroned perennial rivals and defending champions Uganda from the Team Title, with the latter only managing a bronze in the boys U12.

Africa U18 2000m steeplechase bronze medallist Diana Chepkemoi and World U20 ace Phanuel Kipkosgei led the Kenyan pack as the country destroyed fields at the green lush Ngong Race Course.

Chepkemoi clocked 10:47.8 to steer a Kenyan sweep in the girls’ 3.4km race, with compatriots Mary Nyaboke (10:51.4) and Dorcus Chepkwemoi (10:53.4) coming second and third respectively.

Chepkemoi, 17, credited her coaches for the win saying: “The race was good and winning today means a lot for me. I prepared well for the competition and the residential camp helped me. I want to thank all the coaches for the support and the vital advice they gave me.”

Kipkosgei clocked 14:39.8 to lead a podium sweep in the 5.1km boys’ battle as Kevin Kiprop (14:43.6) and Nelson Simiren (14:53.4) came second and third in that order. The hosts bagged the first four places with Uganda coming in a distant fifth in the race.

The class proved a walk in the park for the resilient Kenyans who 'jogged all the way to the medals.’

"It was a tough race, good preparations helped me to do well and winning at home is such a sweet thing. I must also admit the residential training at Ngong helped us a lot to do well because we started the build ups much early. I’m going back home to prepare for the World Under-20 Championships national trials where I also want to make it to the Team Kenya,” Kipkosgei said after the victory.

Ruth Cheruto lead a pack of U12 Girls during the second edition of the ISF World School Cross Country champonship. May 12, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

In girls U15, Jane Wangari led a clean podium sweep for the country in the 2.4km race. The Kiambogo Secondary School student posted a time of 7:40.8, ahead of fellow Kenyans, Faith Jeptum (7:42.1) and Claire Cheruto (7:43.2) in second and third respectively.

The 3.4km boys’ U15 category was another all-Kenyan affair with Peter Lomuryon timing 10:18.6 to become the brand-new champion. Benson Kirongos finished second in 10.22.5 while third place went to Dan Kibet in 10:33.5.

Lomuryon, 15, from Sinonin High School in Baringo said: “I was second during the trials and I’m glad to have won today. I didn’t get any injury and the training was good at the residential camp.

When we went for the camp, I changed my training pattern, it favoured my body, I'm glad it worked for me today as I ran a very calculative race."

The Form Two student further added: "I didn’t want to lead because that’s the mistake I did during the trials and the tactic paid dividends.”

Kenya's Phanuel Kipkosgei celebrate after winning the U18 Category during the second edition of the ISF World School Cross Country Champonship at Ngong Racecourse. May 12, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The 1.2km girls’ U12 category was another sweep for Kenya as Sheila Chepkosgei clocked 3:53.2 to lead the sweet podium smash that saw Belinda Chepkorir (3:55.1) and Dorcas Chelangat Kemei (3:57.1) finish second and third in that order.

"I finished fourth at the national trials for this competition and my aim coming here today was to take first place, and I’m glad it happened,” Chekosgei stated.

“I am very happy as I should be because I have dreamt of this moment for quite a while,” the Tiloa Primary School pupil added.

Intense rivalry was experienced between Kenya and Uganda in the 1.2km boys’ U12 category. Ezron Kimurgor managed to break loose from the pack at the 800m mark, before clocking 3:43.5 to win the hotly contested loop. Benjamin Shikuku was second in 3:46.7 as Ugandan Caleb Kibet completed the podium in 3:48.8.

"I had faith in my abilities because our coaches have trained us well in the lead up to this competition. We were told that Uganda was going to be our biggest threat and we had to be at our best. I am so happy to have won here today and this victory encourages me to keep going on with my athletics career," said a jubilant Kimurgor.

U12 Boys compete during the second edition of the ISF World School Cross Country Championship at Ngong Racecourse. May 12, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Uganda’s Kibet stated: " The race was good and I knew Kenyans were good and when we started, I wanted to be among those at the front. I’m glad I did. I'm determined to follow in the footsteps of our athletics stars like Joshua Cheptegei.”

The event’s award ceremony was graced by President William Ruto. Ruto praised the athletes for giving their best in the athletics extravaganza.

“The participants demonstrated humanity and unity which confirms that the world is becoming a global village, and we all belong to that village,” Ruto underlined.

The championship attracted 460 delegates from 21 countries. It was the second edition being held on African soil after the Marrakech showpiece in Morocco in 2000.

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