The emergence of three top female runners, Florence Kiplagat, Linet Masai and Pauline Korikwiang, has rekindled head coach Julius Kirwa hopes of seeing Kenya rule the roost at the World cross country championship in Amman Jordan in March at the 8km senior women race.
For over a decade, Kenya has played second fiddle to its rivals in the event despite dominating the junior version of 6km. However, after seeing the three women graduate from the lower cadre, Kirwa is upbeat, for having hit the winning combination that will see the individual title for the first time come to Kenya.
Speaking on Tuesday after the conclusion of the Athletics Kenya cross country series, Kirwa said Kenya’s quest in the global event will be more focused as the team to forget the Edinburgh nightmare which saw the local athletes fail to win an individual title in its 36 year history in the competition.
“The campaign has been superb. There are some names that have opted to skip, but what we had has been classic quality. We want to build on it and see that we regain our place yet again on the international stage,” said Kirwa.
The coach cited Kiplagat as one of the medal prospects for Kenya in Amman in the senior women 8km race.
The 21-year-old Kiplagat, a 2006 World Junior Championships silver medallist in the 5,000m missed out the last two season to go and have a baby. She returned to action in Spain where she won in a 6.6km race last weekend.
She however, has to face Masai the current bronze medallist at the 8km race, and Korikwiang a former junior champion in the 6km cross country race in Fukuoka.
Kirwa pointed out that the three have had a steady performance this season. Others are Armed Forces Linet Masai, Irine Limika, World 5,000m bronze medallist Priscah Jepleting, Vivian Cheruiyot (silver medallist at Osaka world championship in 5,000m), Grace Momanyi, Rose Kosgei, Gladys Cherono and Joyce Wanjiku.
In senior men 12km race, Kirwa said the return of Moses Mosop, the silver medallist at Mombasa world cross country, graduation of Mangata Ndiwa, Hosea Macharinyang and Mathew Kisorio has handed selectors a headache .
The trio must find space in a crowded field which also has current silver medallist Leonard Komon, Olympic 5.000m silver medallist Eliud Kipchoge, Micah Kogo, Barnabas Kosgei, Edwin Soi and Levi Matebo.