KAMPALA, Five-time world cross country champion Paul Tergat is confident that Team Kenya has what it takes extend their dominace at the World Cross Championships set for Sunday at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala, Uganda.
Tergat, who won five consecutive titels between1995-1999 has widely tipped his compatriots to perform well this time around.
“We have a strong group of athletes in the team.The course and the weather are a bit tricky but our athletes have the endurance necessary to prevail.” Tergat said.
He predicts a close battle between defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor and Leonard Barsoton in the men’s senior race and expects tough competition from the ‘unpredictable’ strong contenders Ethiopian and Ugandan runners.
Tergat the IAAF championships ambassador is impressed by the steady rise of the small East African nation in the athletics domain. “Uganda in terms of track and field has been on the ascendancy in the last ten years. They have scooped gold in the Olympic and Commonwealth games,” Tergat said.
Also, Tergat has been involved in an environmental legacy initiative dubbed ‘Legacy Green Project’ in Uganda where he launched a series of events prior to the cross country competition.
The main aim of the initiative is to encourage the youth to take care of the environment while using tools such as sports in their development.
Kenyan runners charm Ugandans
The Tergat brand along with Tegla Loroupe, who also an IAAF ambassador is massive and just a mention of the names invoke spirited responses from the locals.
Ugandans in a heartbeat decipher that you are Kenyan and tie you to the rich athletics heritage that the country is known for. “Tergat is very popular here in Uganda because of his prowess when he ran and various community outreach engagements that he had in Uganda
. Loroupe is also known for her accomplishments while running, passion and selfless nature in helping others. They would national treasurers if they were Ugandan,” a taxi driver told Sports News Arena on Saturday.
Loroupe, a seven time major marathon winner has been involved in many community sports projects since her retirement from running. Most notably, she was chosen by the International Olympic Committee as the chef de mission for the Refugee Olympic team that took part in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
This is what drove her to continue her efforts to have a team in IAAF competitions. IAAF President Sebastian Coe intimated that Loroupe and her team of athletes could have a chance to compete as early as the 2017 IAAF World Championships slated for London.