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Helen Obiri eyes epic battle against RuthJebet at Seville X Country

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- There will be no love lost when world 5,000m champion Helen Obiri of Kenya confronts world 3,000m steeplechase winner Ruth Jebet of Bahrain in the Cross Internacional de Italica in Seville, Spain on Jan 21.

Obiri, who is also the Olympic silver medalist in 5,000m and Jebet head the women’s line-up along with two-time world U20 cross country champion Letesenbet Gidey from Ethiopia, and world U20 steeplechase record-holder Celliphine Chespol and world cross country bronze medalist Lillian Kasait, both from Kenya.

Obiri is using the cross country season to shake off the rust after a long layoff to recover from a successful 2017 season that saw her win both the IAAF Diamond Trophy and the gold medal in London worlds.

"I am getting to my prime form slowly.

"The idea is not to compete in cross country for long, but to run in selected races to boost my endurance and then I will turn to training for the indoor competition," said Obiri in Nairobi on Wednesday Nairobi.

The Kenyan is eying the chance to recapture her 3,000m indoor world title having skipped the last championships in Cardiff in 2016.

But to regain her fitness, she must work hard through the enduring cross country circuit.

Obiri has returned home briefly to contest in the Armed Forces cross country championship, where she will be representing her unit on Friday in Nairobi.

"I will then race in two more cross country races before focusing on my speed in preparedness for the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March," she said.

In Seville, the Kenyan must strive hard to deny Jebet the bragging rights as well as watch out for the upcoming Kenyans Chepsol and Kasait who have proved to be no pushovers in their transition from junior to senior ranks.

"It is always difficult to compete in these international races because everyone wants to win.

"But it is about your own fitness and not what strength other have," she said.

Obiri was recently beaten to fourth in Campaccio meeting in Milan, Italy.

In the men’s race, world 10,000m silver medallist Joshua Cheptegei is among the top names along with his young Ugandan teammate Jacob Kiplimo and world cross country bronze medalist Abadi Hadis from Ethiopia.

World and Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto from Kenya will be also on parade.

Kipruto will be eyeing to gauge his fitness before focusing on competing at the continental cross country with Africa staging its event in Chlef City in Algeria in March.

However, Obiri has ruled out competing in the event as she is focused on reclaiming her 3,000m world indoor title when the championships are held in Birmingham City in England on March 4.

"I want to reclaim my title.

"I will not overwork myself to compete at Africa Cross and World Indoor.

"Kenya has many athletes and focusing on one event is important to give it your best shot," she said.



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