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Maranga and Limo unable to defend their titles


9 March 2000Two of Kenya's world cross country champions will be unable to defend their titles due to injury, their management said on Thursday.

Benjamin Limo and Jackline Maranga won the men's and women's four-kilometre races at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Belfast last year but will not be at this year's event in Vilamoura, Portugal, on March 18-19.

Limo, who also won a world championship 5000 metres silver medal on the track last summer, has been suffering calf muscle and Achilles problems in his right leg for the last six weeks.

He was injured at a cross country meeting in Seville on January 16 but returned home to complete several racing engagements.

Competing at the Kenyan national championships in Nairobi on February 19 proved to be Limo's ultimate undoing.

"The pain was so bad after the national championships that I could not drive home afterwards. The following day I was in agony and couldn't even put any weight on my leg," the Kenyan army engineer told Reuters.

Limo immediately sought treatment for his injuries in Ireland after the race and is now running again but has not recovered sufficiently to defend his title.

Maranga started suffering severe back problems in January and, despite treatment in Kenya, the diminutive runner has been barely able to train during the last month.

"It's inconceivable that she will be in Vilamoura," a spokesman for her British-based management company KIM told Reuters.