Coaches bemoan 12k team title loss, Korir begins paternity leave

By evelyn watta
Mar 26, 2013
  • From L-R: Japheth Korir, Faith Kipyegon and Emily Chebet display their medals upon arrival at the JKIA on Tuesday.(Photo:SNA)

Pomp and colour marked the return of the triumphant Kenya’s World cross-country squad from Poland on Tuesday, which won five gold medals, as the coaches reflected on the loss of the men’s senior title for the first time in six years.

It would have been worse hadn’t it been for Japheth Korir whose energetic talent helped Kenya regain the senior men’s title, a golden celebration for his one month old daughter.

“When I saw everyone else had dropped I knew the whole country was counting on me, and that gave me energy and warmth and I just sprinted away,” said the cheery Korir, 19, already planning an attack on reclaiming the elusive 5000m men’s world title.

“This gold medal…”he continued clutching his gold medal hanging around his neck alongside a flower garland. ‘This is for my wife Caroline and my one-month old daughter Jedidah Chepkirui, who had to stay without me while I was training in Embu.”

Coaches Sammy Rono and John Mwithiga who guided the team to Bydgoszcz reckoned that Kenya’s team tactic was bungled by the sub-zero temperatures, coupled with Jonathan Muia’s fall which knocked him off the lead pack and the race.

Team tactics froze 

“Our team tactics were intact but the weather scuttled it all,” offered Rono on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the team’s head coach. Infact what saved the day was individual skill but more importantly the runners previous experience with the conditions in Bydgoszcz from 2010.”

Korir, a bronze medallist from the junior race three years ago, Emily Chebet who recaptured her senior women’s title from and Faith Kipyegon Chepng’etich’s fantastic sprint for her second gold in the junior race ensured Kenya finish top of last Sunday’s championship.

After Korir, Hosea Macharinyang was the other top placed Kenyan in 12th with Geoffery Kirui placed 16th Timothy Kiptoo and Philemon Rono trooped in 26th and 32nd while Muia was forced to pull out of the race after he was spiked on his tendon.

“We worked on closing the gaps at training but the weather got the best of our runners. Then Muia’s fall messed it all,” said Mwithiga aka ‘Warm-up’.

“It was a painful, nasty spike that led to the fall,” said Muia as he limped his way out of the JKIA arrival lounge.

“But I should be fit for Moscow trials and bounce back like Korir on Sunday did after missing World junior championships.”

The senior men’s champion who missed his ticket to Barcelona last year after he was spiked during the trials recovered from a bad my Achilles injury become the youngest senior men winner.

But despite the adverse weather conditions, Rono maintains that the northeastern town of Embu offers the team the best training conditions for its cross-country preparations.

“Embu is still the ideal venue for us to prepare because of the weather conditions which can be very cold in the morning and hot in the day. What we may have to do is change the training course slightly.”