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Acid test for title holder Chebolei ahead of Sirikwa Classic



Acid test for title holder Chebolei ahead of Sirikwa Classic

Defending 10 kilometres champion Samwel Chebolei is optimistic he will retain the title during the Sirikwa Classic World Cross Country Tour Gold series on Saturday.

The Kenyan leg of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour series, which was previously known as Memorial Agnes Tirop World Cross Country Tour, will be held at Lobo Village in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County on Saturday.

Chebolei faces stiff competition from upcoming athletes in his quest to keep the crown.

National cross country champion Charles Lokir, who has a strong sprint finish, poses the biggest threat.

Lokir told Nation Sport on Monday that he is ready for the big day.

“I did not run at the Discovery Cross Country Championships on Sunday because I am focusing on Saturday’s race. I expect the race to be competitive because my friend Chebolei, who is the defending champion, will be in it. But I will fight to the end,” said Lokir, who put up a spirited fight to claim glory in the national championships.

Other competitors in the men’s 10km senior men’s race include Kenneth Kemboi, Issac Kibet, Peter Mwaniki, Brian Kiptoo, Vincent Mutai, Longosiwa, Fredrick Domongole, Raphael Longisa, Alex Mutiso and Daniel Muteti.

Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei said that Kenya was fortunate to get another chance to hold an international championship.

The inaugural world cross country race was held last year at the same venue in honour of 2015 World Athletics Cross Country Championship winner Agnes Tirop, who was found murdered at her home in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County on October 13, 2021.

Her estranged husband Ibrahim Rotich denied murder charges in court and remains in police custody.

This year, organisers have removed the mud obstacles on the course and replaced them with with hurdles and trenches resembling those of steeplechase races but without water.

The three hills that featured during the inaugural race last year have been retained alongside the hay challenge.

The winners in the men’s and women’s 10km senior categories will go home with $6,000 (about Sh744,000), while the second and third placed athletes will pocket $5,000 (about Sh620,000) and $4,000 (about Sh496,000).

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