Gideon Chirchir, the Kenya Prisons Service athletics head coach, is confident his side will pick a strong team for the national Cross Country Championships set for next month during their highly rated trials tomorrow.
The event will be held at the Prisons Staff Training College in Ruiru.
While Chirchir says the men’s corrective department’s team will have the strongest competition on the day, he says the women’s category will be equally competitive.
“We have been working towards reclaiming the men’s 10km title at the nationals.
Our regions and heads of various units will present formidable teams for our championships,” said Chirchir, a former 3,000m steeplechase athlete.
Africa 10,000m silver medalist Wilfred Kimitei, Africa 10,000m champion Alice Aprot, Africa cross country bronze medalist Charles Yosei Mneria and Mangata Ndiwa, a world cross country sensation, are among top stars expected to spice the day.
Interestingly, Kenya Prisons meet brings together a bag of mixed talents in Loice Chemining and Agnes Katungei.
Reigning world under-18 champion Jackline Wambui will test her senior rivals in women’s eight-kilometre race.
Former world 2,000m steeplechase champion Celphine Chepteek, 2017 world cross country bronze medalist Lilian Kasait and Nancy Nziza will also be in action.
“As a coach, I expect them to perform well and form the prisons team ahead of the World Cross Country Championships in Australia, where we intend to protect our turf,” said Chirchir.
The 2021 World Cross Country Championships is set for Bathurst, Australia, on March 11.
Visiline Jepkesho, the 2015 Paris Marathon winner, will lead the women’s onslaught while Olympic 800m bronze medalist Margaret Nyairera and Sylvia Chesebe will lead the relays squad. Jane Mwikali and Jane Murage will also be in action as well as Farida Chelang’a.
Chirchir is hopeful the current stars will one day match their predecessors like four-time Boston Marathon winner Catherine Ndereba, three-time world half marathon champion Edith Masai, Susan Sirma, Salina Kosgei and Susan Chepkemei at the global stage.
Meanwhile, Safaricom and Magereza sacco society yesterday boosted the Prisons Cross Country with Sh1.1 million towards the event.
The communications service provider company gave Sh900,000 with the Sacco boosting with Sh200,000.
The event happened at the Kenya Prisons headquarters in the presence of commissioner general Wycliffe Ogallo.
Also present was Florence Omundi, deputy commissioner general, and a number of athletes led by 2007 world marathon champion Luke Kibet.