Thirty athletes representing Kenya in the bi annual Confederation of Africa (CAA) Cross Country Championships will be gunning for the country’s fifth consecutive title in the competition slated for Chlef, Algeria on March 17.
Alfred Barkach and Stacy Ndiwa lead Kenya’s assault in the absence of national champion Geoffrey Kamworor and CAA defending champion Alice Aprot. Head coach John Kimetto is confident that the team will live up to the task and bring more medals than the last edition witnessed. “We are prepared to retain the overall title and win more individual medals.
All the athletes are in good shape and in high spirits. We have no injuries and administratively allowances and kitting have been done on time,” said Kimetto. In the previous edition held in Cameroon, Kenya took all the individual medals at stake and also retained the overall team title by grabbing 22 out 24 top spots in the races with only a Ugandan and Eritrean athletes denying the winners a top six shut out in all the categories.
Philip Kipyeko of Uganda was the senior men’s runner-up and Eritrea’s Aron Kifle took third in the men’s junior race. Kenya swept the medals on the women’s side, including a perfect score of 10 in the junior race.
With a new mixed relay category added to the traditional junior women 6km, junior men 8km, senior women 10km and senior men 10km races, coach Kimetto says that the technical bench will have the final team for the mixed relay before they jet off to Algeria.
“We will select the relays team based on the strengths of the athletes in camp. However, we are planning to get off the blocks with a male athlete who will pass the button to a female then follow up with another male and have a lady finish the race for us,” explained Kimetto.
World Under 18 silver medalist Edward Zakayo, the favourite in men’s junior 8km says the 2018 podium is theirs to lose as he, alongside his teammates among them World Under 18 bronze medalist Stanley Waithaka will race as a team leaving the last minutes to decide the winner.
“We are keen to clinch the gold we lost at Kasarani in the World competitions. Experience cost us that gold but now we have prepared well as a team and individually,” said Zakayo.