Cheptegei ready to defend World Cross Country title

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David GOMBE

Event: World Cross Country championship
Men’s Senior category: Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo, Samuel Kibet, Isaac Kibet and Martin Kiprotich
Time: 7:30am
TV: (DStv channel 228 and Gotv channel 333)

Defending champion Joshua Cheptegei will be eyeing back to back titles at the 44th World Cross Country championship on Saturday morning in Bathurst, Australia.

The event is taking place for the first time in four years following the cancellation of the championship in 2021 due to the Covid-19 turmoil.

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The men’s 10k field this year will have all the podium finishers at the 2019 edition in Aarhus, Denmark led by reigning Champion Cheptegei and compatriot Jacob Kiplimo who claimed silver with Kenya’s double champion Geoffrey Kamworor also lining up.

At the 2019 edition in Denmark, Cheptegei became the first Ugandan to win gold in the Men’s Senior Category at the IAAF World Cross Country Championship.

Global long-distance runner Joshua Cheptegei returns to action

He clocked 31min 40sec around the 10.2km-long course as he edged Ugandan teammate Kiplimo to claim the east African country’s maiden victory in the men’s world cross-country championships.

The double 10,000m World champion hopes to defend his title in Bathurst.

“The field is incredible, it has brought together incredible athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda and Burundi, so it would be huge to win again.”

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“Everybody has put in a lot of training coming to Australia. The athletes here are all sports heroes in their countries and I can say with respect that this is one of the strongest fields ever.” Cheptegei said as quoted by the BBC.

This will be his first event this year. Injuries has limited the global long-distance runner to only one race since retaining the 10000m global title at the World Athletes Championships in Eugene, Oregon last year.

The injuries kept him out of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games and other events.

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Maestro and fit again Cheptegei is angry and hungry for more victory once again but will face stiff competition from double Commonwealth Champion Kiplimo who will be eyeing the Cross Country global title.
In 2019, Kiplimo settled for silver behind Cheptegei.

Cheptegei and compatriot Kiplimo at the 2020 Tokyo Games

Besides, Cheptegei and Kiplimo, Uganda will also have Samuel Kibet, Isaac Kibet and Martin Kiprotich

Double Champion Kamworor will also be hoping for a podium finish, which he has been unable to achieve since winning the New York marathon in 2019.

The Kenyan beat Cheptegei to the 2017 World Cross Country title at the event that was held in Kampala.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey will be one to beat in the women’s category. Defending champion Hellen Obiri will miss out.

Former Commonwealth champion, Stella Chesang, Mercyline Chelangat, Rispa Cherop, Doreen Chesang and Annet Chelangat will represent Uganda in the women’s senior category

Gidey who is the 10000m and 5000m World record holder will be seeking for her first senior title having won the 2015 and 2016 Junior cross country titles.

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