Sports / Updates
Thursday, 23 Mar 2017 14:44 EAT
After Ethiopia prevented Kenya from winning a fifth successive senior women's team title two years ago in Guiyang, the east African powerhouse comes armed and ready to recoup from that loss and begin another streak at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017 on Sunday.
Heading the Kenyan squad is Agnes Tirop, the winner two years ago, who is bidding to become the first back-to-back champion since Tirunesh Dibaba in 2005-2006, before the championships shifted to its current biennial schedule.
The 21-year-old has struggled to distinguish herself since, however, although her fifth-place finish at the national championships last month was enough to earn the chance to defend her crown in a competition where she'll be part of a Kenyan all-star line-up.
There's Faith Kipyegon, just 23, and already the Olympic 1500m champion. While her Rio triumph was paved by world youth and junior titles over the distance, she's hardly a slouch off the track or at longer distances.
After a solid fourth-place showing in the junior race in her World Cross debut in 2010, she won back-to-back U20 titles in 2012 and 2013, and followed up with her first title in the senior ranks when she won the African crown in 2014.
Kipyegon, who hails from Bomet County, is a 2015 World Championships 1500m silver medallist in Beijing. This season she was second in San Giorgio su Lignano over 6km and third at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships over 10km.
Meanwhile, Alice Aprot brings solid credentials at 10,000m, having won the African Games title over the distance in 2015, the African title in 2016, and finishing fourth in Rio where her sub-30-minute run left her without a medal.
More recently, she won the always difficult Kenya Prisons cross-country title in late January and finished fourth at the national championships a month ago to book her ticket to Kampala.
This will be the 23-year-old's second appearance at a World Cross, after a ninth-place showing in the junior race in 2010. She also took the continental cross-country title last year. Irene Cheptai brings experience with her third straight appearance in a Kenyan vest at these championships.
The junior runner-up in 2008, she was 10th in the senior race in 2013 and seventh two year later. Boding well, she has won each of her three cross-country races this year, including the national title one month ago.
The squad also includes world steeplechase champion and Olympic silver medallist Hyvin Kiyeng, who is making her first appearance at the World Cross.