Kamworor targetting World Cross repeat in Kampala

Geoffrey Kamworor (right) trails Bedan Karoki across the line to finish the senior men race ...
Geoffrey Kamworor (right) trails Bedan Karoki across the line to finish the senior men race in third during the National Cross Country Championship at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, Kenya on February 18, 2017. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Not since the five-year reign of Kenenisa Bekele from 2002 to 2006 has a senior man managed to win back-to-back world cross-country titles, but Geoffrey Kamworor will be aiming be the first Kenyan to do exactly that at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017 on Sunday.

Sunday’s race will mark exactly one year since his triumph at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships Cardiff 2016, which also happens to be his most recent victory.

In a somewhat disrupted past 12 months, Kamworor has raced just three times since then, finishing second over 5000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene, placing 11th in the 10,000m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and finishing third at last month’s Kenyan Cross Country Championships.

But Kamworor isn’t unduly concerned ahead of his title defence on Sunday. Cross country is one of his strengths, which he first displayed when winning the 2011 world U20 cross-country title. Combined with his ability to raise his game when it matters, Kamworor will be a formidable opponent in Kampala.

Leonard Barsoton won the senior men’s race at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships, but that often counts for little when it comes to the World Cross.

The last time the winner of the Kenyan Cross Country Championships went on to become the top Kenyan finisher at the World Cross Country Championships was back in 2007.

Nevertheless, the 2013 world U20 cross-country silver medallist should still be in the hunt for medals and will be keen to improve on his fifth-place finish from two years ago in Guiyang.

Kampala’s Kalolo Independence Grounds also holds good memories for Barsoton as it is where he won the 2014 African cross-country title.

Better known as a pace maker, Vincent Rono finished fourth at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships, just a few seconds behind Kamworor. He has never previously represented Kenya at an international championship, but now finally has a chance to shine as an athlete in his own right.

Leonard Komon took the senior men’s silver medal back in 2008 and went on to break world records for 10km and 15km little more than two years later. After a few fallow years, Komon is regaining form and will be a valuable member of the Kenyan team on Sunday alongside Leonard Langat, Nicholas Kosimbei and Mark Bett.

-Report by the iaaf.org.

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