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Kenya Says To Send Team To World Cross Country In China

NAIROBI (Xinhua) — Kenyan athletics officials on Tuesday reaffirmed that the country will present a team at the World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China on March 28.

This is despite efforts by some elite athletes to boycott the country’ s national trials set for Saturday in Nairobi to select the team to the championships.

“Kenya will be at the World cross. We are the defending champions and there is no way we will stay away. There are politics over leadership of Athletics Kenya (AK), but that will not be allowed to interfere with the running of the competition programme,” AK president Isaiah Kiplagat told journalists in Nairobi.

Kiplagat said calls by Professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK) for athletes to keep off the event, which is an IAAF Permit Meeting is an exercise in futility.

The competition, Kiplagat said, stands out as a national event and attempts to disrupt it would derail Kenya’ s bid to continue its winning tradition.

“This is a national event and we cannot allow some people to disrupt it just like that. We shall be at the venue and anyone who will try to disrupt the event will face the consequences,” said Kiplagat.

Last week, PAAK which brings together a sizable number of elite athletes, said it would lobby athletes to boycott the trials in a protest move to have Kiplagat resign as AK president.

Teams from the regions will be arriving in Nairobi from Thursday for the event set for Saturday.

“The regions are sending their teams and we are set for the event. There should be no cause for alarm. I can assure you that all the athletes enlisted for the event will be running, including from regions from the rebel chairmen,” said Kiplagat.

Kenya and Ethiopia are far and away the most successful countries in the world championships’ history, winning 120 out of the 158 team titles in the competition.

The two nations have met 120 times where both have fielded full teams, with Kenya beating Ethiopia 79-41. Kenya has won four individual senior women’ s titles and expected to re-affirm their supremacy in Guiyang.

Benjamin Limo, the country’ s International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Athletes’  Representative, said although politics over governing of athletics is rife, the competition programme for athletes must not be interfered with.

“We want athletes to focus entirely on training and not on politics. Kenya will be in China to win medals and not to play politics,” said Limo.



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