Amina leads Kenyans at Memorial Agnes Tirop
Hundreds of athletes from Kenya and beyond congregated at Lobo Village, Eldoret, on Saturday for the Kenyan leg of the World Cross Country Tour, which lived up to its billing.
The one day event was named after the 2015 World Cross Country champion Agnes Tirop who was murdered last October.
As a profound tribute to the two-time 10,000m bronze medallist, the Kenyan leg was a stark contrast to previous rounds of the gold label tour in terms of the order of activities.
And it was an emotional ending to the competition for the thousands of fans at the venue as well as the VIP line-up that had Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, among other dignitaries.
The senior women’s 10km race was the showstopper, unlike the penultimate race it usually is, and it was never a dull moment as musical and traditional dancers performed jaw-dropping moves in between the eight races of the day.
Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei afterwards acknowledged the huge turnout and enthusiasm by fans coupled by top notch organisation of the event once again proving that Kenya is ready to continue staging such global events.
“If this was a test, I think we excelled in all aspects. I am happier that the event was brought to the home of cross country,” said Tuwei.
Before the main event that started at 3pm on Saturday, fans were also treated to a parade by 18 retired athletes who hoisted Kenya to the throne of cross country during their heyday.
The presence of five-time world champions Paul Tergat (1995-1999) and John Ngugi (1986-1992) as well as Isabella Ochichi (bronze medalist), Paul Kibowen (two-time short races champion) and Edith Masai (three-time short races champion) added excitement to the event.
Meeting director Barnaba Korir said the presence of the legends was meant to inspire young athletes to follow in their footsteps and keep Kenya’s cross country fire burning brighter.
“These are the veterans who have represented the country and did very well in past cross country series. We paraded them to show the world that they are our retired athletes and give them recognition for what they have done for Kenya,” said Korir who doubles up as the director of youth development at AK.