Some allergic reaction saw World Cross Country senior women’s defending champion Emily Chebet perform poorly at the National trials where she finished 14th overall.
But like a cat with nine lives, Chebet was included in the Kenyan team on a wildcard, which gave her an opportunity to become the first Kenyan woman to win the world title three times.
Fresh from winning the 33rd Cross Internacional de Italica, the second Spanish leg of this season’s IAAF Cross Country Permit series on January 18, struggled during the national trials.
“I think change of weather from a colder Europe to a hot and humid Nairobi affected my performance and an allergy worsened everything during the trials,” said Chebet, who won bronze in 10,000m at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
It’s her vast experience stemming back to over a decade that gave Chebet a niche, having won the 2010 World Cross Country title in Bydgoszcz, Poland before returning to the same place in 2013 to recapture the title. Both events were held under cold conditions.
It’s been predicted that this year’s World Cross Country Championships due March 28 in Guiyang, China, would be held under cold conditions.
(READ: China, here we come! Give way)
The temperatures could hit as low as 13 degrees Celsius with showers expected on the competition day.
The 2010 event was held under some sunshine at 10 degrees but 2013 was a bit colder and snowy with the temperatures dipping to -6.
“I have mastered the conditions and it’s my desire to pay back the country with victory in China,” said Chebet but warned that it won’t be an easy affair.
“I know everyone in my team is equally good but Ethiopia still remain our main challengers. But I believe we can retain both titles if we are to embrace good team work and spirit.”
The team has Agnes Jebet, who won silver in junior event at the 2013 World Cross and Janet Kisa, who finished sixth in senior women’s race in 2013 before winning silver at the 2014 Africa Cross. Others are Iken Chebet, Stacy Ndiwa and Margaret Jelimo.
After finishing fifth at the 2003 World Cross junior event in Lausanne, Switzerland, Chebet failed to finish senior women’s race during the 2007 event in Mombasa.
She would strike gold in 2013 in Poland but missed the chance to defend her World Cross title in 2011 Punta Umbria, Spain after she failed to finish at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships.
Chebet won bronze and team title with Kenya at the 2012 African Cross Country Championships held in Cape Town despite struggling with an injury.
Chebet was placed fourth at the national cross country trials but went on to win her second world title at the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, beating off a challenge from Ethiopian Hiwot Ayalew to claim both the individual and team gold medal.
Genet Yalew, junior silver medallist in 2011, is one of six athletes on the Ethiopian senior women’s team that has medallists from the 2013 World Cross, Alemitu Heroye and Belaynesh Oljira.