Africa cross country junior champion Nicholas Kimeli is hoping to return to Africa cross country championships ahead of the trials set for this Saturday at Ngong Racecourse.
The national trials, which were postponed due to the death of the second president Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi will see top regions and Athletics Kenya affiliates compete for honours as individuals chase for Team Kenya ticket for Africa Cross country championships to be held in Lome, Togo.
Kimeli, who was the finalists in 5,000m at the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar will lead Central Rift region in 10km as well as Andipas Kandie and world under 18 2000m steeplechase silver medalist Cleophas Kandie, Edwin Kiplagat, Titus Kimutai and Evans Keitany.
“I will return to Africa as a grown-up, willing to pull a surprise. I know Kenyans are disappointed for letting them down but am hoping that I will perform well for the next competitions but I will redeem my image in Togo,” said Kimeli.
Former Africa Junior bronze medalist Nancy Chepkwemoi and Nelson Mandela half marathon silver medalist Sarah Naibei and Pater Lang’at will lead Western Region at the national trials.
Both training in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County will lead 10km senior women categories after dominating the Western Region.
With tough competition in North Rift and Central Rift, the athletes took the honours in Western region Championships held at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) ground.
Africa junior cross country runner Peter Lang’at were crowned the champions.
Chepkwemoi, the former world junior 1,500m bronze medalist who also world Africa cross country junior bronze medalist to win 10km senior women title.
“It was a good race when I defeated the most experienced runner,” said Naibei.
Lang’at will lead Kennedy Kipyego and Peter Mayabei from 2km, Lang’at won the 10km senior men title ahead of Kipyego and Mayabei.
“My target is to run for Kenya at the Africa cross country championships,” said Lang’at.
Western region chairman Patrick Kipsang said they have the best team ready for the championships.
“The athletes recorded good time despite this being a cross country. We are expecting good results in Nairobi,” said Kipsang.
Following their dominance at the national cross country championships for years, falling National Police Service, North Rift will be chasing their titles at the trials.
At the regional championships held at Ekaales Sports ground in Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet showed their prowess to take top honours with upstart Monica Chirchir leading Venice and Kakamega Marathon champion Judith Korir in senior women while
All Africa Games 5,000m gold medalist Robert Kiprop and Jacob Krop will lead senior men’s title race.
Iten based Chirchir won the women’s 10km race in 32:46.29 ahead of Korir.
Despite Kiprop and Krop missing at the regional championships, they were included in the team.
The duo were competing at the Valencia 10km where Rhonex Kipruto broke the world record.
According to North Rift region public relations officer Boniface Tiren, the duo were given wild cards.
“The two had a superlative performance and as a region, we could not allow them out of the team.
In Ekaales, Geoffrey Kiboi won the senior title ahead of Charles Lokir and Asbel Kiprop.