The Star (Nairobi)

21 February 2013

Kenya: Forget Big Names

Kenya national cross country team coach Sammy Rono has played down the absence of world champion Vivian Cheruiyot and Linet Masai, saying it will not affect the team's chances for glory at the global event in Poland next month.

Rono said the team selected over the weekend at Uhuru Gardens was one of the best-- considering the depth to replace the duo who have opted out to concentrate on the World Athletic Championships later in the year.

"The team we selected over the weekend was one of the strongest and I believe we have adequate replacements for the two. We are going to be competitive in all categories," he added.

Rono said they have to tweak their tactical strategies ahead of World Championships as they prepare to kick off training tomorrow at the Kigari Teachers College in Embu.

"We are going to sit down with the coaches and strategise our training programme. We want see where we need to make changes in terms of tactics," added Rono.

He said team work will be critical if they are to retain the overall team title. " Cross country is all about teamwork and we will ensure we retain our team titles from the last event in Punta Umbra two years ago," he added.

The tactician said there have been changes to the course in Bydgozcz in Poland, where the event was staged in 2010 and expects an even tougher course.

"I read there have been course changes and we will look at how to navigate the course in the of training," he said.Rono believes the athletes will adjust to the cold wintry conditions in Poland when the team departs in three weeks time.

"The climatic conditions here are hot so the athletes will have to acclimatise. We are looking at arriving three to four days early for the athletes to get used to the weather," added Rono.

The coach expressed confidence that the team can sweep the individual and team titles at this year's event. A total of 27 athletes were selected during trials and three will be dropped from the squad just before the departure

Philemon Rono, who won the national cross country title has now set his sights on the title in Poland next month. " The win here has given me confidence to go all the way in Poland and do the country proud," he said.

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