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Athletes brace for the elements

Thursday March 25 2010

By CHRIS MUSUMBA in Bydgoszcz, Poland

The weather forecast has cautioned of a possible downpour on Saturday and most coaches dread the impact it will leave on the loose surface course, which will be the stage for Sunday’s World Cross Country Championship here in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Kenya team head coach David Leting expressed his concern after inspecting the course on Thursday. But he took the challenge in his stride, pointing out that it is what everyone will face and not just Kenyans.

“I have just seen the course and after the athletes did their training on it they were satisfied and know exactly what to expect,” Leting said. “But the challenge remains whether it rains before the race or not.”

Temperatures could rise

Things will not be hard on the Kenyans alone, but Leting has asked his athletes to expect a mucky ride as they battle to ascertain their dominance in a race that has seen the country’s iron grip at the helm loosen to the challenge of Ethiopia.

Contrary to reports that the course will be rainy and cold, the weather report here indicates that temperatures could rise to highs of 11 and drop to about three degrees Celcius.

“It is almost the same conditions we had on Thursday last week when we went to the slopes of Mt Kenya to train. We had temperatures of about eight degrees Celcius,” said Leting.

In the seven years he has been with Kenya’s cross country team, Leting added, he has never before seen such a level course. He cautioned his athletes against underestimating the challenge ahead.

“Scotland had hills, Jordan was worse, but it is going to be a tough race to anyone here,” he added. “So these athletes need to be serious and focus on doing well.”

Australian optimistic

The Kenyans are staying at Hotel Maraton together with Australia, Lesotho, Bulgaria, Algeria, Brazil and Israel. Big Tim O’Sh, the Australian coach, was optimistic of his team doing well.

O’Sh was in Mombasa with his team in 2007 but they did not do well. He however remained hopeful of his team’s success in Bydgoszcz on Sunday.

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