By John Kwoba
NAIROBI(Xinhua) -- Kenya’s athletics
head coach John Kimetto pledged on Monday to lead his team to
conquer the rest of the continent at the biannual Africa Cross
Country Championships in Chelf, Algeria next month.
Kimetto oversaw the selection of 30 of the finest athletes to
represent Kenya in the event, which will bring out the best crop
of distance runners from Africa.
However, Kimetto must motivate his charges with some top
names, opting to give the event a bye in favor of the World Half
Marathon in Valencia, Spain (March 24) and the World Indoor
Championships in Birmingham (March 1-4).
"I know top names like world cross champion Geoffrey Kamworor
and his silver medallist Bedan Karoki as well as world 5,000m
gold medallist Hellen Obiri are not with us. But Kenya has
always emerged strong in such times because we have strong team
and a big reservoir to pick from," Kimetto told Xinhua in
Two years ago in Yaounde, Cameroon, Kenya staked claim to the
eight gold medals on offer and had its national anthem recited
all throughout as it celebrated her athletes, who took all the
individual and team gold medals on offer at the fourth Africa
Cross Country Championship. It was a mighty show of total
There were only two other athletes, one from Ethiopia and one
from Uganda, in the top 24 across the four disciplines in the
junior women 6km, junior men 8km, senior women 10km and senior.
"It is wrong to be overconfident in sports.
"But we have dominated these games in the last four editions
and I see no other country, not even Ethiopia having this huge
talent to challenge us for the medals.
"It will not kill the sport, but make us even stronger," said
However, Kimetto warned that for Kenya to be able to
successfully plot their conquest in Chelf, they must review
other teams’ strengths and weaknesses and see who they will
field against their own.
"It is from this that we will be able to say how well
prepared we are.
"But for now, the team will immerse in training and hopefully
emerge without injury and claim their spot on the table at the
Africa cross country championships," he added.
The team of 30 athletes will pitch camp in Embu town for
three weeks to polish their skills.
Athletics Kenya has warned they will not allow any of the
selected athletes to compete abroad for fear of burnout.
"Our team as usual is strong.
"We have opted for both experienced and young athletes to
have them get the feeling of top competition.
"But I believe the rookies will learn their skills from the
others use it to showcase their talent in Algeria," he said.