Youngster Emmanuel Korir was on Wednesday night left behind as Team Kenya left for the World Cross Country Championships planned for Saturday in Aarhus, Denmark.
However, Korir, who failed to secure his visa on time, will leave the country on Thursday night to link up with the team that exuded confidence of performing better than the 2017 Kampala event.
Team manager Benjamin Njoga disclosed that the person Korir had filled in his visa forms as his next of kin wasn’t aware when then Danish Embassy called him for verification and approval.
“We had to call the parent and that should be sorted out at the Embassy on Thursday right on time for the next flight,” said Njoga, who left on Wednesday at 11pm with the rest of the team aboard an Emirates Airlines plane.
The team warned their rivals especially Ethiopia, Uganda and the United States of America that has five former Kenyans, to prepare for an all-out war.
“We know we are not only the team to beat, but also a target of many by virtue of being the defending champions,” said Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei, when he hosted the team for dinner at Weston Hotel on Wednesday.
“We believe in you and we know what you are capable of…we wish you well and just go out there and conquer once again,” said Tuwei.
“We know we are carrying the emotions and aspiration of 40 million plus Kenyans,” Njoga said. “It’s a heavy responsibility but we shall not let the country down.”
Njoga said that he is confident that his side, which is a mix blend of youth and experience, will deliver better results.
“We want to thanks the athletes for the high standards of discipline exhibited since we went on residential training on March 1 in Kigari, “ Njoga said. “That is what will contribute to our success including the support from sponsors like Lotto foundation.”
One of Team Kenya coaches Julius Kirwa said he is confident of sweeping all the nine gold medals at stake; four individual, four team and mixed relay.
Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor is still favourite to seal his third consecutive senior men’s 10km title after previous exploits in 2015 Guiyang, China and 2017 Kampala, Uganda.
Kenyan senior women will be hoping to wrap up their record seventh consecutive title with the likes of World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri and 3,000m steeplechase World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech among the favourites to win.
The Kenyan junior men will be looking to recapture the Under-20 title that Kamworor won for the country last in 2011, what with the junior women’s too out to reclaim the title World and Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich won for Kenya in 2013.
“I know it’s a tough calling but we are determined to bring back the junior title…eight years is a long time,” said the World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist Leonard Bett. “Victory will be ours if we embrace team work.”
Tanui, who is the only other athlete in senior men’s team with experience apart from Kamworor, said team work will deliver victory once again.
“We have a strong team with Kamworor, the master of the terrains in the midst., but I also want that title,” declared Tanui, who won silver in 2011 Punta Umbria, Spain.