23 MAR 2013 General News Bydgoszcz, Poland

IAAF athletes' press conference highlights - Bydgoszcz 2013

Emily Chebet, Kenya’s World champion at the 2010 edition held in Bydgoszcz, answering questions at the IAAF Press Conference for the 40th edition of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Saturday 23 March (Getty Images)Emily Chebet, Kenya’s World champion at the 2010 edition held in Bydgoszcz, answering questions at the IAAF Press Conference for the 40th edition of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Saturday 23 March (Getty Images) © Copyright

The traditional IAAF World Cross Country Championships pre-event press conference took place at the Palac Hotel in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Saturday (23).

Ethiopia’s reigning senior men’s champion Imane Merga and Kenya’s 2010 senior women’s winner Emiy Chebet were in positive frame of mind and the pair were joined by USA’s two-time silver medallist Deena Kastor and six-time Polish champion Katarzyna Kowalska.

Below are the highlights from the question and answer session:

Emily Chebet (KEN) -

On facing wintery conditions and an undulating course tomorrow:

“I’m really happy to be back here and see it’s a very different to 2010 (when the Championships were also held in Bydgoszcz). There was no snow then so now it’s annoying but I’ll try to run my best.”

On whom she thinks will be her toughest competitor for the title:

“I really don’t know, but the weather’s not nice.”

On her form since winning her title three years ago and her comeback season this winter:

“It’s different running on the track (her last track race was in December 2011). I run well over cross country and so I hope to do well here. In my very next cross country race after I won here in Bydgoszcz, which was in Kenya, the next winter, I injured my knee.”

Imane Merga (ETH) –

On his opinion on the snow and below-zero weather conditions:

“I feel the uphill section of the course will be more of a challenge than the snow itself.”

On hoping to become the first man to retain his title since fellow Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (the senior men’s champion in 2002-06 and 2008):

“I train with Kenenisa and I have my own strategy for tomorrow. I think I can win, but I am not revealing my strategy.”

On the frustration of having to watch the Olympic 10,000m final in London from the sidelines last summer:

“I was sad not to be there but I was supporting Bekele (who finished fourth behind his brother, Tariku who took the bronze medal) and was more frustrated for him.”

Deena Kastor (USA) -

On her return to cross country racing since last competing in 2007:

“I think the decision to come back was rooted in me looking at my running logs and noticing that all of my good years happened on the back off a cross country season. There is no comparison in terms of gaining strength and you become a tough athlete from competing in it.”

On her useful preparation for the cold weather conditions in Bydgoszcz:

I live in a ski resort town in California, where we can sometimes get 60ft of snow so I’m fortunate that I live in a place to prepare for cross country, I’ll feel at home here with the mud and snow.”

On whether she believes a non-African athlete can reach the medal podium in Bydgoszcz:

“I think that every person on the starting line is a threat. Athletes are hungry for victories and you have got to take everyone seriously.”

On the USA senior women’s team’s medal chances after bronze medals in 2010 and 201 :

“I don’t feel any pressure but it’s an honour to represent my country, and we’ll die trying. I hope each of us show we’re having a good time so we can win the IOC bid (for cross country to become part of the winter Olympics).

On some well-known runners not competing the 2013 World Cross Country Championships:

“There’s no doubt that as athletes we look at winners and top athletes as guides to where we want to be so we should feel competitiveness not seeing the event as something to defeat us before we even try.”

Katarzyna Kowalska (POL) –

On her lack of Polish opponents at cross country:

“In Poland, runners use cross country as a way of preparing for the (outdoor) season but most prefer to train indoors so for the time being, I don’t have any major opponents for the Polish championships and so have won a succession of (six) national titles.”

On her hopes to break into the top 20 here:

“That will be a big challenge, three years ago I wanted to make the top 30 and finished just inside the top 40 (36th) but we had three USA runners in the top 20. I do think I can make it.”

On her experience of the course:

“I won the national title here two weeks ago and, like Mr Merga, I shouldn’t disclose my tactics but I believe it is a different course to three years back.”  

Nicola Bamford for the IAAF