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Ugandans ready to defend ISF cross country for school title

The Ugandan team will be hoping to retain their title when the 24th edition of the International School Sport Federation (ISF) World Cross Country Championships will be hosted on Sunday at the Ngong Racecourse.

Teams held their final training sessions at Nairobi School on Saturday with many of the budding stars looking forward to a wonderful time and experience on the course.

Uganda, which won the title during the event, held in 2022 in Slovakia as Kenya becomes the second Africa country to host the competition after Marrakech, Morocco.

With over 400 athletes set to compete among the 22 different, Uganda head coach Fred Cherich said that as defending champions they are expecting the best by defending the title.

Speaking during their last training session at the Nairobi School on Saturday, Cherich said: “We feel pressured as champions but we are going to overcome it. We have prepared enough and majority are not new because they have been competing.”

On the cultural aspect, he said that they presented the best dance in the last edition winning the title and this time, they want to do the same.

“We had the best dance and we shall showcase our chances. I know Kenyans are our rivals so we expect a tough challenge and the best will take it,” he said.

His words were echoed by team captain Elisha Yeko, who said that the event has presented a good opportunity to showcase their talent.

“We are well prepared for the event and as defending champions; we hope to retain the title. It is going to be a tough competition especially competing with Kenyans,” said Yeko, who was  inspired by his father who was his first coach and Joshua Cheptegei to run.

On Kenyans, he said that they will provide a strong competition.

The Qatar team led by fifteen-year-old Tiare Escomel was glad to have gotten the chance to compete in Kenya, saying the weather conditions are pretty good.

“It is an absolute honour to visit Kenya, one of the best in athletics and I’m looking forward to the race which will inspire me to continue running and at the same time balance with education,” said Tiare.  

Her teammate Xavier Leblanc from Leycee Bonaparte revealed that he loves running and is pushing his limits to register good results. 

“I have been in South Africa for six years and running in Kenya will be the best experience because I want to meet and see how they are competing in various events. I’m just here to learn and interact with other young people,” he said 

Amelia Quiroga from Teresiana School in Chile expects a stiff challenge and is also relishing the opportunity to visit tourist sites in Nairobi.

“Kenya is pretty green and the food is really good and I’m looking forward to a good race. I know it will be a tough challenge and the race will be super-fast but that is part of the learning process in athletics”, she said.

The athletes will be battling in the boys’ and girls’ under 18, under 15, and under 12 categories covering 1.1kmm 3.3km and 5.5km repetitively

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