Weight of expectations at World cross rests easy on Kenyan juniors

By evelyn watta
Mar 18, 2013
  • Conseslus Kipruto wins the IAAF cross country permit meeting in Elgoibar, Spain.(Photo:IAAF)

  • Kenyan juniors in action during the National Cross-country trials.(Photo:SNA File)

From their demeanour in training, this is a team in cohesion young runners bearing the brunt of the expectations with each step.

Their sprints spiritedly getting them closer to the hungered world cross-country medals, angling to win Kenya's 14th World cross junior title this Saturday in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

With all the six runners making their world cross country debut, it has made it a far more intense environment at the team Kenya’s training camp in Embu on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, but very good for the morale.

“We must defend the team title,” said Conseslus Kipruto, the reigning world junior steeplechase champion.

“That means we must sweep the medals to be sure of the haul.”

23 junior team titles since 1988 is an envious unbeaten cross-country record that their predecessors have heroically guarded.

It is a piece of history, Kipruto alongside the reigning national junior champion Ronald Kwemoi, Leonard Barsoton, Moses Mukono the KCB/Athletics Kenya cross country series jackpot winner, Emmanuel Bett the fastes man over 10 000m last year and Michael Bett, cherish but are not concerned much about for now.

They are more interested in what will happen on Sunday.

It's our time for Gold 

"Now it's our chance to win the Gold, silver and bronze and and defend the team title. We are in shape, training here together in Kigari has been good for us,” said the World youth 2000m Steeplechase who dominantly won the gold in Barcelona after a gun to tape lead.

The 19-year old poised that he is back to the flattering form, where he was last July prior to winning the steeple gold and impressing in the Samsung Diamond League races in Monaco (1), Lausanne (5), Brussels (3) and finished third in the 3000m in Rieti.

The bubbly former 1500m racer, comes alive on on his delayed form that left him desperate to make the cut after uninspiring runs in the cross country series in Machakos and Kisii.

But he quickly bounced back to win the IAAF cross country permit meet in Elgoibar in Spain and crossed the line third in Seville behind Emmanuel Bett second and the winner Jairus Birech who didnt make the team to Poland.

“I started training late as I had to take ample recovery time and during the trials I was just chancing to make the team despite running well in Europe,” said Kipruto.

“Now, that I am here going for that gold, I will fight for it. I would love to win it. Its possible, I could just win,” his declaration somewhat muted as his teammate Kwemoi the surprise winner at the trials walks by.

“I am in good shape, I feel the way I felt before the trials. My form is overflowing after the training here in Kigari,” said the runner from Mt Elgon his cross-country title dream still burning.

“When I look at my teammates they are also in shape,” he added pointing to his colleagues standing besides him.

“What did he say?” Kipruto interjected curiosly.

“I said someone will go down in Bydgoyzch,”Kwemoi replied jokingly.

“That’s why I need to get training now….”said Kipruto as he walked away, a well-played out rivalry that could matter on Sunday.

“We have been told that the hills on the Bydgoszcz course can be punishing and that will be the only challenge we are focussed on not the Ethiopians or Eritreans,” added Kwemoi an indication of where the race will be headed.