Cross Country greats John Ngugi and Paul Tergat have tipped Kenya to perform well during the World Cross Country Championships on Sunday at Kololo grounds, Kampala.
After missing out on the top podium places at 2007 Mombasa World Cross Country, Ngugi said that it’s now time for senior men and women to remedy that with victories at Kololo.
Tergat said the turnout at the national trials, which included some Olympic and World champions, showed how Kenya was serious about the championships in Kampala.
Tergat said that Kenyan juniors have now matured to take on the world after they failed to secure victory at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.
Ngugi made history when he became the first man to win five senior men’s 12km titles at the World Cross Country Championships. He won the races back-to-back from 1986 to 1989 before returning claim the title again in 1992.
Tergat would become the second man to win the race five times, equalling Ngugi’s record in with back-to-back victories in 1995 to 1999.
“The conditions in Mombasa were adverse unlike in Kololo and that is why I have high hopes that Kenya will stage its best ever show,” Ngugi said.
“Kampala is like home and our stars need to take advantage of the home ground.”
Eritrean Zersenay Tadese denied Kenyans the top podium finish at 2007 Mombasa, beating Moses Mosop and Bernard Kipyego to second and third places respectively in the men’s 12km race.
Kenyan senior women were locked out of the podium when Kenyan-born Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands claimed victory in the 8km race with Ethiopians Tirunesh Dibaba and Meselech Melkamu winning silver and bronze.
Ngugi said Team Kenya has trained well by virtue of being in residential training for a month adding that the Ethiopian challenge shouldn’t scare them.
“We only need to tread carefully but not fear them,” Ngugi said. “I know we have other Kenyans running for other countries but they are like a drop of water that can’t flood the ocean.”
Tergat, who is the Kampala World Cross Country Championships ambassador, said he is excited to see top athletes making Team Kenya.
KAMWOROR, TIROP IN THE MIX
Defending champions Geoffrey Kamworor and Agnes Tirop secured their places in Team Kenya during the trials alongside 2008 silver medallist Leonard Komon, who is the team captain.
Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich, who holds two junior World Cross Country titles and Olympic 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist Hyvin Kiyeng and Africa Cross Country champion Alice Aprot also made the team.
“It’s exciting to see Kamworor, Komon and the rest making the team. This shows that our athletes’ commitment and sacrifice to represent the country,” said Tergat, who appealed for Kenyans to troop in numbers at Kololo to support Team Kenya.
Tergat warned Team Kenya to be ready for a challenging but exciting course at Kololo. “There are many man-made obstacles that include trenches and logs geared towards making the course tough.”