Team Kenya tours track in plot to rock Kampala WXC

IAAF President Sebastian Coe with World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop, Olympics 1500m gold medallist Faith ...
IAAF President Sebastian Coe with World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop, Olympics 1500m gold medallist Faith Chepng'etich, Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich and Canada's Sasha Gollish. (PHOTO/the IAAF)

On the eve of the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Team Kenya toured the Kololo Independence Grounds – the turf on which they intend to conquer a galaxy of global stars assembled at the Ugandan capital.

Team Captain Leonard Komon said the squad is in high spirits as he assured the country will once again soar to the top of the world on Sunday.

“The course looks okay but there is a gaping hole on the but the positive thing is that everyone will run through it. I’ve seen the confidence in squad and I can guarantee the Kenyan flag will be flown higher up above the rest.

“Most of the opponents here are our compatriots and we’ve known each other for a long. We’ve trained together so we know the threat they pose and the magnitude of the task ahead. When we hit the road tomorrow it will be patriotism over friendships,” Komon told Citizen Digital.

Teammate Asbel Kiprop who is expected to lead Team Kenya for the mixed relay said despite the compelling field that will line up at Kampala, the country’s chase for glory will be boosted by the ‘good luck charm’ in the Kenyan jersey.

“I see no worthy rival among them. Once you put on the red-black-green and white Kenyan print then you simply get inspired to win. They lack that so it’s a big motivation for us. We have to keep the traidition of winning going,” Kiprop, the Beijing 2008 Olympics and three-time men 1500m world champion told Chamgei FM.

Kiprop who won the 2007 Junior World Cross when he was just 17 added he could not resist the chance to compete under the watch of his icon Paul Tergat in a global championship hosted by an East African state.

“When I heard that Tergat and others will be in Kampala to grace the event and as an active athlete, I just decided to be part of the national team so they watch me competing.

“I also wanted to use the medley relay to prepare for the London World Championships in August. I loved the 2km loop,” he stated.

Faith Cheng’etich Kipyegon, who has won the world cross junior titles twice, also said she would use the Kampala competition as dress rehearsals for the London showpiece.

“I was here in 2014 Africa cross-country and I won. So I know the course so well. We need prayers from our people at home,” said Chepng’etich.

Stephen Kiprotich, the 2013 world marathon and 2012 London Olympics marathon winner, said he welcomes Kenyans into Kampala for the competition.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe said he was happy to see Africa stage a World Athletics Series event in Africa under his leadership.

“I was voted in 2015 and within few months, IAAF brought the Diamond League in Africa. We have come up with new innovations like medley relay,” he said.

Tergat, the five-time world cross-country champion and former world marathon record holder, urged the athletics fraternity to support environmental protection.

“As a sports person, you will need a green environment to train like forests. So let’s support the ‘Greening Kampala idea,” Tergat, an IAAF Ambassador for the championships said.

-Additional reporting by Mike Okinyi. 

-Carol Kones and Mike Okinyi are reporting from Kampala, Uganda.

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