NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
World champion in 1500m Asbel Kiprop of Kenya is making a return
to cross country after ten years and still hope to excel when
the championship is held in Kampala, Uganda in March.
Kiprop last competed
at the event in 2007 when Mombasa, Kenya hosted the competition
winning in junior men’s race.
He kept off the
event and has only returned not to compete in the same event but
a new relay event, which is being introduced for the first time
securing a slot in the Kenya team, Kiprop is optimistic, he will
weather the storm in Kampala and win another medal in cross
“Good to be back in
Kigari training camp in Embu (Kenya) after exactly 10 years.
It’s a special moment. There’s a difference since 2007 team I
can see only Leornard Komon, who was on this team a decade
ago,” said Kiprop.
Indeed with a huge
talent pool to draw from, Kenya has never lacked replacement and
each team has had its strength and with Kampala next, Kiprop is
certain the country will deliver the medals as it comes up
against host Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Bahrain, Qatar and USA
who have dominated the championships.
This year’s event
will mark the 42nd edition of the global cross
country championships. It will also be the fifth time the
championships will be hosted by Africa after Rabat in 1975,
Stellenbosch in 1996, Marrakech in 1998 and Mombasa in 2007.
While Kampala is
expected to add to that rich tradition that now spans more than
four decades, it will also add a new chapter with the inaugural
The 8km race will be
contested by teams composed of two men and two women who will
each run a 2km loop, in any order.
The runners will
pass a wrist band that serves as the baton through an exchange,
or takeover zone, that’s 20m in length.
The programme will
then continue with the traditional races: a 6km U20 women’s
race, an 8km U20 men’s race, a senior women’s 10km and senior
marks the first time that senior women will race the same
distance as the senior men.
Nearly 600 athletes
from 54 member federations are expected to compete in Kampala,
the highest number of countries and regions represented at the
IAAF World Cross Country Championships since 2009.
Kenya has topped the
medal tables at four of the past five editions, but its rivalry
with Ethiopia is expected to remain fierce. The two nations
split the four individual titles in 2015 at two apiece, while
Ethiopia captured 11 medals in all to Kenya’s nine.
Host Uganda is also
expected to wage a strong battle for both individual and team
crowns, with Eritrea and Bahrain also likely to play key roles
in several of the medal fights.