Kenyan athletics team lauded for good performance at Africa cross-country

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Nairobi, March 14 (IANS) Kenyan coaches and officials have congratulated their athletes for winning and dominating the Africa Cross Country Championships in Yaounde, Cameroon.

Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jack Tuwei on Sunday said that the country wins clean despite many saying it has failed to tackle doping influx among its runners, reports Xinhua.

“We are very happy with the performance in Yaounde. It helps ease pressure on us that we are relaxed and not taking doping offences seriously. These athletes are winning clean and we are proud of their performances,” Tuweri said here.

The East African nation has dominated the Africa Cross Country Championships which concluded on Saturday, ever since they were launched in 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Tuwei said the performance is a rehearsal on what the country should expect at the Rio Olympics and other international competitions.

“These were not the strongest athletes we had. But they have gone on to conquer Africa and I must loud their effort. But we are all working on getting the strongest team for the Rio Olympics and I hope they will move on to claim their spot in the Kenya team to Brazil in August,” he added.

Head coach Julius Kirwa said the endurance and experience the team received in training in Yaounde will go a long way to help them stake claim in top competition and a place in the Kenya team to the Olympics.

“Cross country is a good event to boost athletes’ endurance and that is why we start the year with it. Now they can each focus on their specialties and hopefully, turn out better as the season goes,” he said in Eldoret.

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Kenya dominated the 4th African CC Championships as they won all individual races and all team standings. Actually, only two countries got individual medals apart from Kenya.

Kenya’s James Rungaru was beaten in interesting duel by a second Ugandan Philip Kipyeko 26:34 minutes to 26:35. The third place went to Charles Yosei 26:46 and fourth Cleophas Ngetich both from Kenya 26:52 in the senior men 10km race. Next best non-Kenyan was Ethiopian Getaneh Molla as sixth finisher in 27:13.

Kenya team captain Alice Aprot was clear women winner in 29:52 at the 10km ahead of teammates Sheila Chepkirui 30:44 and Beatrice Mutai 31:08. Dida Dera of Ethiopia was next best as fourth 31:13.

In the junior girls 6km race, Mariam Cherop won in 18:31 minutes ahead of Gloria Kite 18:39 and Wilfred Mbithe 18:40. Best non Kenyan was Dekobo Hailemariyam from Ethiopia finishing fifth in 18:52.

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Eritrean Aron Kiple was third in junior boys 8km race clocking 21:48 minutes beaten by two Kenyans Isaac Kipsang 21:33 and Ronald Kiprotich 21:44. Best Ethiopian Tefera Mosisa was seventh (22:15).

Kenya and Ethiopia went 1-2 in all team standings except in the senior men where Uganda beat Ethiopia for the second place. Other bronzes for Morocco (junior girls) and South Africa (junior boys, women).

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