After the small matter of making the national team, athletes will now focus on the bigger task that is winning medals at the World cross country championships on March 20.
The team will have a three week intensive training at the Kigari teachers Training College in Embu from Thursday before heading to Punta Umbria, Spain for the World Cross country championship next month.
Kenya has picked a team of 24 athletes which has two world champions, Linet Masai and Vivian Cheruiyot, one World Youth Champion Isaiah Kiplangat and Berlin marathon silver medalist Geoffrey Mutai.
Kenya clinched nine of the 12 gold medals that were on offer in the last competition in Bydgoszcz, Poland giving credence to the insinuation that East Africa had killed cross country.
“It is going to be hard. It has never been easy to win in the previous competitions and this year, it will be more difficult now that everyone will be looking at what we will be parading to try and foil any attempts of last year’s repeat,” said Kenya’s head coach David Leting.
Masai will be keen to go one better after finishing second in the last two editions in Poland and Jordan. On both occasions she lost to Kenyans Florence Kiplagat (2009 in Amman) and Emily Chebet (2010 in Bydgoszcz).
Come of age
“I believe I have come of age and can now challenge them or any other athlete to the title. I will try to push hard early enough so that I can drop off the competition,” said Masai after winning the usually explosive Kenyan trials.
But for Vivian Cheruiyot, the World 5,000m champion, winning or losing the national trials was not the issue. The bigger task is to make sure Kenya reclaims the title in Spain against international opposition.
“The first barrier has been crossed and now we can focus on winning in Spain. I should be in good condition to go for it after training,” Cheruiyot stated.