Cross-country champ Cheptai eyes 10,000m gold at London Worlds

Indo Asian News Service

Nairobi, March 29 (IANS) World cross country champion Irene Cheptai of Kenya has thrown down the gauntlet and warned her teammates she is ready to step up and conquer the 10,000m race at the London World Championships in August.

Cheptai, who was making her third shot at the global cross country contest, emerged the winner in Uganda to end her long wait,reports Xinhua news agency.

That performance has inspired her to train her eyes on a bigger challenge that is to win the 10,000m gold medal in London.

"The next step is to make the 10,000m team. It is always a challenge to compete against some of the best athletes in Kenya. To make the team has to be the first priority and then from there it will be the gold medal in London," she said.

Indeed, Cheptai must be focused to make the Kenya team knowing that the defending champion Vivian Cheruiyot, Alice Aprot and Betsy Saina will be all angling for the three slots up for grabs.

Cheruiyot, who will be making her debut in the marathon on London in April, has confirmed she will still seek to compete in the 10,000m race at the World Championships.

Saina, on the other hand, will be keen to atone her missed opportunity in Beijing two years ago when she finished eighth in the race.

She has since followed that performance with a fifth place performance at the Rio Olympics while Aprot was second to Cheptai in Kampala at the World Cross Country Championships.

"I will try first to do a series of 10,000m races so that I get the qualification time. But time will not be important in London," she said.

However, her coach Renato Canova said Cheptai will target the 10,000m at the World Championships and that she is capable of running under 30:30 for the distance. He also added the marathon could one day be her best event.

Meanwhile, World Cross Country champions Geoffrey Kamworor, said he has attained what he wanted in the event and will now direct his energies at the track season starting in May.

Kamworor said winning gold remains his challenge at the London World Championships in August.

Kamworor also said his second consecutive World Cross Country victory has inspired him to take another stab at the World 10,000m title in London as he plans to take the battle to current title holder Mo Farah to his door steps.