Kampala return leaves Barsoton with sense of déjà vu

Leonard Barsaton crosses the finish line to win the senior men race during the National ...
Leonard Barsaton crosses the finish line to win the senior men race during the National cross country championship at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, Kenya on February 18, 2017. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

After leading Kenya to a barnstorming 1-2-3-4-5 finish at the 2014 African Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Leonard Barsoton heads back to the Ugandan capital with a sense of déjà vu.

The Japan-based Barsoton stormed back into frame for the top podium places after stunning 2015 Guiyang, China medalists, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor and Bedan Karoki to clinch this year’s Nationals held in Nairobi.

The fifth finisher at the 2015 World Cross ended a four-year wait in astonishing fashion, trailing third in the final lap behind Kamworor – the reigning world cross champion – and Karoki to complete his come-from-behind victory after.

That win has led him into believing he could yet again make Kampala his fortress.

“Winning the national title and beating Kamworor and Karoki was a sign of good things going to happen in Kampala. Those two already have gold and silver medals in the previous series. It showed me that I could also do it in Kololo,” Barsoton told Citizen Digital.

The former world junior cross-country silver medallist was speaking during the launch of Team Kenya training camp on Wednesday at the St. Marks Teachers Training College in Kigari, Embu County.

Barsoton opted not to defend his African title during last year’s African Cross Country Championships where Kenya had an exemplary performance in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Instead, fellow Japan-based athlete James Gitahi Rungaru flew Kenyan flag high as he took the senior men title as Barsoton sat back to strategize on winning the coveted world title.

“After winning an African title I wanted a world title. It’s really motivating because we are going to the same place I won my gold. Have been working hard since and I feel it’s the best and right place to get a world gold medal,” he underscored.

The 22-year-old will be making his third World Cross appearance having represented Kenya for the first time as a junior in 2013 in Bydgoszcz, Poland where he won an individual silver and assisted his team win a silver medal.

After winning the Kenyan title, his Coach Takashi Okamura hinted they are working on training programme that could see him transit onto the full marathon at the 2020 Japan Summer Olympics.

“When I arrived in Japan in 2011 we started planning on my career that is; when I will compete on the track and when I shall do road races. It has been working well for me and towards the end of next year I shall make my debut in the half marathon then later advance to full marathon as I prepare for the Olympics Games,” Barsoton elaborated.

He added that he will not retire from the track but will be an all-surface athlete just like Kamworor and Karoki as he sets his sights on representing Kenya during the IAAF World Championships in London, England slated for August 4-13.

“After the World cross country I shall go back to Japan for a while but I will be back for the London Championships trials. I will be perusing to get a ticket in the 10000m event. Last year I missed a chance to represent my country during the Rio Olympics in Brazil.

“I dropped out of the race because of the high altitude. I didn’t have enough time to adjust because I arrived late from Japan,” Barston offered.

Barsoton will team up with Kamworor, Vincent Rono, Leonard Komon, Leonard Lagat and Nicholas Kosombei as they plot the fall of their East African arch-rivals Ethiopians beat them to gold during the 41st and 42nd edition in Bydgoszcz (2013) and Guiyang in 2015.

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