World X Country Champs: Beatrice Chebet out to retain Kenya's seven-year glory against strong field

ATHLETICS World X Country Champs: Beatrice Chebet out to retain Kenya's seven-year glory against strong field

Abigael Wafula • 07:38 - 17.02.2023

The race will be on Saturday, February 17 and is expected to start on at 9:30 a.m Kenyan time and 5:30 p.m Australian time.

Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet will be lining up in a strong field of athletes as one of the pre-race favourites having clinched the junior title at the 2019 edition of the World Cross-country championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

All eyes will be on her as she seeks to maintain her winning streak in the senior category and also defend the seven consecutive titles that Kenya has clinched since the 2009 edition at the Al Bisharat Golf Course in Amman, Jordan.

The Commonwealth Games 5000m champion will enjoy the company of Kenyan compatriots Edinah Jebitok, two-time World Cross-country champion Emily Chebet, Cynthia Chepngeno, Grace Loibach and Agnes Ngetich.

However, the race will definitely be an uphill task as it has attracted some of the best athletes from Ethiopia, Uganda and Burundi among other countries.

Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey will also be lining up with a quest of improving her third-place finish from 2019. Gidey was in sensational form in 2020 and 2021, setting world records of 14:06.62 for 5000m and 29:01.03 for 10,000m. She is the World 10,000m champion.

The 24-year-old is now focused on winning her first individual senior World ross-country title. She won back-to-back U20 crowns in 2015 and 2017, joining an elite club of athletes to achieve the feat.

Gidey also heads to Bathurst as one of the big favourites and is certainly in form to challenge for gold at the senior event.

As much as individual glory will be Gidey’s biggest goal on Saturday, she will also want to earn gold in the team standings, and Ethiopia will once again be in with a great shout of doing exactly that.

Another Ethiopian to watch will be Gete Alemayehu, who has a life time best of 1:06:37 in the half marathon.

Eritrea’s Rahel Daniel will also be in the race for a podium finish. She has dominated the World Athletics Cross Country Tour and currently tops the season standings. She has won at the prestigious Campaccio meeting, Elgoibar and her most recent feat was at the Hannut meeting.

Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba is also just a formidable opponent despite struggling with a bout of injuries.

Stella Chesang of Uganda will also be looking to improve on her 21st-place finish at the 2019 edition. Chesang is the 2018 Commonwealth 10,000m champion. She is joined on the Ugandan team by world U20 5000m bronze medallist Prisca Chesang.

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