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Ace Obiri moves to relays, avoids contest

By Amos Abuga
Friday, February 12th, 2021
Hellen Obiri (right) and Joyce Chepkemoi of Laikipia Air Base lead the 10,000m women race during the KDF Cross Country Country championships at the Moi Air Base last week. INSET: Kibiwot Kandie leads the 10,000m men race during KDF Cross Country event. Photo/PD/PHILLIP KAMAKYA
In summary

No doubt, it will be one of the most explosive National Cross Country Championships-cum-trials in recent times, when a large field of elite and promising athletes converge at the Ngong Race Course tomorrow to prove their mettle.

The annual event was officially launched yesterday at Riadha House with sponsors Lotto Foundation injecting Sh7million towards the championship that is set for Ngong Race Course, Nairobi tomorrow.

Top guns will lock horns as they battle for the automatic slots for the first six across the line, since Athletics Kenya (AK) will be using the event to pick a team to represent the country at the Africa Cross Country Championships in Lome, Togo, on March 7.

After years of playing the understudy, a number of young women athletes who have graduated into the senior ranks are threatening to seize the moment and cut a niche for themselves.

The contest has over the years been billed as a battle ground for the disciplined forces Kenya Police, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and Kenya Prisons –but the emergence of new stars from South Rift and Central Rift regions sets adrenaline pulse racing.

Police athletes have been staging good shows in the recent past and a lot is expected when Sheila Chelang’at leads 2015 world 3000m steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng, world 5000m silver medalist Margaret Chelimo, Edith Chelimo, Faith Kimutai and Caroline Nyaga against strong opposition from Kenya Defences Forces and Kenya Prisons big shots.

World cross country champion Hellen Obiri will not compete in 10km and has opted to run in mixed relays.

Obiri’s absence will not water down the contest as prisons bigwigs in Rosemary Wanjiru, former Africa Cross Country champion Alice Aprot, 2017 World Cross Country bronze medalist Lilian Kasait, Loice Cheming, Abigael Chelag’at and Gladys Cherono long to lock up the opposition.

Joyce Chepkemoi, Nespine Chepleting, Peninah Kandie, Esther Chemutai and Gladys Chemweno will lead KDF brigade.

New talents from regions would also emerge as surprise factor. They include North Rift’s Vicotty Chepng’eno, 2017 world cross country champion Irene Cheptai and Daisy Kimeli.

Central Rift region’s Eva Cherono, Agnes Chebet Betty Chepkemboi and Jackline Chepng’eno, Mercy Chepkorir and Beatrice Chebet of South Rift are also in the mix.

Agnes Mumbua, Cecilia Wayua, Lucy Muli, Christine Ndanu will lead South region squad as Sandra Chebet, Emily Chebet, Margaret Nduta, Naomi Chepkemoi, Ruth Chepng’etich and Margaret Ngoiri anchor the Nairobi team.