Kenya will bank on athletes from the 2010 Bydgoszcz world-beating team for another repeat performance when the World Cross Country Championship go down at the same city on Sunday in Poland.
Head coach Sammy Rono says he trusts the 2010 senior women title holder Emily Chebet, reigning world junior champion Faith Chepng’etich, Margaret Wangare and Japheth Korir to guide the rest of the team since they have a clue on how the course likes like.
“While everybody is well prepared and rearing to go, focus will be on the four athletes for guidance since they have an idea on the weather conditions in Spain and the course although there are some slight adjustments,” said Rono.
While Chebet stunned many to win the senior women’s crown, while Wangare, the 2012 Africa Senior Cross-country women’s silver medalist, finished sixth in the senior event. Korir, who is making a debut in the senior ranks, claimed bronze in junior men’s race a year after finishing fifth in Amman, Jordan.
Chepng’etich, whose star has kept rising, came fourth on her World debut in women’s junior race in Bydgoszcz before winning the title in 2011 in Punta Umbria. “We know it’s still Winter and it could snow. The course will be muddy but these conditions will affect everybody,” explained Rono, adding that they have prepared well, with the high altitude camp in Kigari, Embu helping a great deal.
“We have been doing pace training on the slopes of Mount Kenya in the morning and we believe it will help even though it’s not as cold as Bydgoszcz.”
Rono said the athletes are happy and have trained well after breaking for few days. Even though they are not focusing on any particular opponents, they can’t ignore their rivals from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda, who are coming up pretty fast.
Rono singled out the inclusion of senior men’s champion Imane Merga, who dropped out during the Ethiopian trials saying their rivals were waging “a Cold War” against Kenya. Ethiopia also gave wild cards to three times world champion Tirunesh Dibaba among others.
“They know the mention of a World champion during the race would elicit fear among their opponents. They have also included several senior athletes to tighten their defence team but we have taken note of that and we shall not give anyone a leeway,” said Rono.
Chebet said she is eyeing a double after she missed a chance to defend her title in Punta Umbria owing to an injury.
“The training we are receiving is similar to the one we received in 2010 and I believe we are capable of repeating the 2010 feat but if only we embrace team work,” said Chebet, who won bronze at the 2012 Africa Cross in South Africa. “In fact, this is almost a new team and that is a precise decoy for us since nobody will know our strategy. “ Kenya won all the team and individual titles during the 2010 Bydgosczc Championships.
“Train hard win easy, that is the spirit here,” said Wangare, winner of the national trials who boasts of experience from the 2008 and 2010 events. “I have trained under three different coaches but the training tactics and sessions are the same hence we are confident of victory.