It has been a tradition to see Kenya’s world-beating stars give the Africa cross country championships a wide berth –since the inaugural event in 2011.
But there is a sudden change this season. Kenya’s squad to the continental meet that run in Lome, Togo, on March 11 features Olympic medalists, world record holder and two world champions.
Whether by default or design, Athletics Kenya named a relatively young squad for the competition. World half marathon record holder Kibiwott Kandie will make his debut with the national team colours at the event. He will marshal forces with Commonwealth Games 10,000m bronze medalist Rodgers Kwemoi, Edwin Bett, Nicholas Kimeli, Phenus Kipleting and Daniel Mateiko. World 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot will anchor the mixed relay battle with world 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri, Jarinter Mawia, Abel Kipsang, Newton Kipruto and Lydia Jeruto.
World marathon champion Ruth Chepng’etich, Olympic 3,000m steeplechase silver medalist Hyvin Kiyeng, national cross country champion Sheila Chelang’at, Olympic Youth 3,000m silver medalist Agnes Jebet, Margaret Ngoiri and Everline Chirchir will spearhead the women’s quest in the west African nation.
Interestingly, most of the athletes who were selected last year for the competition, which was affected by Covid-19 pandemic, also made the cut.
They include Kandie, Africa 3,000m champion Gideon Rono, Agnes Jebet and Ismael Kirui.
AK vice president Paul Mutwii said the team will report to St Marks Teachers Training College in Kigari, Embu, on February 17 and leave for Togo on March 6.