Junior men reveal their only card

Friday March 17 2017

Irene Cheptai (271) competes with Faith Chepng'etich (316) and Lilian Kasait during the National Cross Country Championships 10km senior women's race on February 18, 2017 at Uhuru Gardens. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Irene Cheptai (271) competes with Faith Chepng'etich (316) and Lilian Kasait during the National Cross Country Championships 10km senior women's race on February 18, 2017 at Uhuru Gardens. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By CHARLES WANYORO
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Competition is fever pitch among Kenya’s junior men’s World Cross Country team members.

The budding runners are eyeing glory at this year’s global event set for March 26 in Kampala, Uganda. The level of competitiveness and form is sky high, leaving Team Kenya head coach Juma Ndiwa with high expectations.

“They are all ready. If the competition was held today, they would perform well. I have monitored them and they are raring to go.

“It is difficult to predict who will perform better than the other. It is too close to call,” he said in an interview after Friday’s training.

World Youth 3,000m champion Richard Kimunyan, who won last month’s national trials is confident of repeating the feat next Sunday at Uganda’s capital city.

However, the Commonwealth and Africa Youth 3,000m bronze medallist will face strong opposition from his compatriots.

Amongst his rivals are IAAF World junior Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase champion Amos Kirui, Wesley Ladema, who is based in Japan and new sensation Meshack Munguti.

“The training has helped the team improve a great deal and we cant’ wait to go to Uganda. My expectation is to conquer the course.

'GREATLY IMPROVED'

“I feel that I have greatly improved since the trials. I see no opposition. I will be going for the top medal in Uganda,” said Kirui, who finished fifth at the trials.

The Kenya junior trials were, of course, fiercely contested with all first six athletes separated by 20 seconds.

Ladema, the 2016 junior world championship bronze medallist and Africa junior silver medallist  said he had a short training spell before entering the competition and will be hoping to improve.

“I would like to win gold in the event but any medal will be fine. I joined training late and my form has greatly improved,” said Ladema, who trains with Subaru Company.

Edwin Kiplang’at, who emerged fourth in the trials, said the presence of an array of stars such as Geoffrey Kamworor, Leonard Barsoton, Leonard Komon and Asbel Kiprop during training was giving the athletes the drive to perform better.

MAKING DEBUT

The 17-year old from Sotik, who is making a debut at the world stage, said he hoped the mentorship will help him scale greater heights in future.

“I am emulating the likes of Kamworor, Asbel Kirop. They are motivating us and making us realize that we can make it,” he said.

The senior athletes are always at hand to talk to the youngsters, giving crucial tips that could come in handy on competition day.