19 MAR 2001 General News Not even the absence of inspirational five

Kenyan coach confident despite Tergat’s absence

Kenyan coach confident despite Tergat’s absence
Elias Makori for IAAF

19 March 2001 - Not even the absence of inspirational five-time champion Paul Tergat will dampen Kenya's spirits at this week's World Cross Country Championships in Ostend, Belgium, Kenya's head coach Dan Muchoki says.

Muchoki is confident that the athletes he has in camp are capable of retaining Kenya's team title at the championships and retaining the blue riband men's 12 kilometre gold they lost in Vilamoura last year besides scooping the various individual titles.

"I have a lot of confidence in these athletes," Muchoki said at the team's training camp at the high altitude town of Kaptagat just outside Eldoret, the hub of Kenya's top distance runners.

"Tergat's absence will not affect them because their concentration and discipline has been very high in training. They are ready to emulate Tergat's performances."

The 31-year-old soldier, silver medallist at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics over 10,000 metres withdrew from the Kenyan team to the World Championships after finishing third at the February 24 Kenyan Championships, opting to maximise his efforts on his intended full marathon debut.

Tergat, world best performer and champion in the half marathon, will make his marathon debut in London on April 22.

Tergat, who equalled his countryman John Ngugi's five world cross country titles in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1999, has been replaced in the Kenyan team by his Fila team-mate Patrick Ivuti.

The strong Kenyan team has been training at Kaptagat where the camp was shifted to after malaria and typhoid outbreak at the traditional Embu camp in central Kenya.

Other athletes missing the flight to Belgium are Nancy Wambui in the senior women's four-kilometre team, Pauline Chemeli, Irene Kwambai (senior women's eight kilometres) and Stephen Rerimoi (senior men's four kilometres).

Muchoki confirmed that all athletes are in camp, seriously preparing for the championship with three rigorous training sessions each day at 6 am, 10 am and 4 pm.

"All the athletes are in camp as there is no way I can allow some to be away because it is a matter of teamwork. It is this teamwork that will eventually count in Belgium."

The veteran coach, meanwhile, is in a dilemma after losing his passport after he was involved in a traffic accident on his way to the Kaptagat camp from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Muchoki was not injured during the accident.

"I hope to get my documents in order before the team's departure on Wednesday," the coach said.

Kenya Amateur Athletic Association secretary General David Okeyo said the team was in high spirits and quite upbeat and are expected to leave Nairobi for Brussels aboard Sabena Airlines on Wednesday, March 21.

The final squad is:

Junior Women (Six kilometers): Vivian Cheruiyot, Pamela Chepchumba, Alice Timbilil, Fridah Ywalareng, Selina Kibiego, and Jelagat Kibiwott;

Senior Women (Six kilometres): Rose Cheruiyot, Edith Masai, Margaret Ngotho, Selina Chepchumba, Naomi Mugo and Pamela Anisumuk;

Senior Women (Eight kilometres):Lydia Cheromei, Susan Chepkemei, Pamela Chepchumba, Leah Malot, Sally Barsosio and Hellen Kimaiyo;

Junior Men (Eight kilometres): Kiplimo Muneria, Edwin Koech, Kipkorir Lebo, Nicholas Kemboi, Wilson Chelal and Robert Kipchumba;

Senior Men (Four kilometres): John Kibowen, Sammy Kipketer, Benjamin Limo Enock Koech, Albert Chepkurui, and Cyrus Kataron;

Senior Men (12 kilometres): John Korir, Paul Kosgei, Charles Kamathi, Enock Mitei, Patrick Ivuti and Richard Limo.

Officials are: Francis Nyatome (team manager) Dan Muchoki (Head coach) Joseph Chelimo (Assistant coach) Solomon Mbaya (Physiotherapist) and Jane Toroitich (chaperone).