Kenya: Hellen Obiri Eyes Fifth KDF Crown

22 January 2020

World Cross Country champion Hellen Obiri will be seeking her fifth Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country title on Friday at Thika 12th Engineers Barrack.

Last year, Obiri sealed her fourth KDF women's 10km title on January 25 at the sunny Kahawa Garrison course ahead of her historic victory at the World Cross Country Championships on March 30 in Aarhus, Denmark.

Obiri, who will be representing her Laikipia Air Base team, went on to retain the 5,000m title at the World Championships on September 28 in Doha to cap off what was one of her most successful seasons.

Obiri kicked off her season with a fourth place finish at the 'Cross Internacional de Itálica' in Seville, Spain on Sunday.

World 5,000m silver medallist Margaret Chelimo won the 'Cross Internacional de Itálica'.

Chelimo cruised to victory in 28 minutes and 37 seconds, beating compatriot and World Cross Country Under-20 champion Beatrice Chebet to second place in 28:49 as Ethiopian Tsehay Gemechun settled third in 29:00.

Obiri, the Commonwealth and Africa 5,000m champion, came in fourth in 29:27 followed by fellow countrywoman Eva Cherono in 29:41.

"Some back pain ruined my title defence and I think it's the Seville weather that affected me," said Obiri, adding that she will be back in great shape for her defence in the KDF event.

Obiri will face her usual rivals Perin Nenkampi, Pauline Korikwiang, Ines Chenonges and Deborah Samum from Moi Air Base and home athletes Sheila Chepkirui and Irene Kamais. Chepkirui is a former winner of the race.

Obiri edged out Kamais and Samum to second and third places respectively last year.

KDF athletics head coach David Lamai said preparations for the championships are going on with the 12 teams taking part expected for rehearsal on Wednesday.

"We should brace up for a more interesting championship with the most of our athletes using the event to prepare for 2020 Tokyo Olympics like Obiri," said Lamai.

Kandi Kibiwott from Embakasi is back to defend his title as he once again prepares to battle Lawi Kosgei (Moi Airbase) and Vedic Cheruiyot (Navy), whom he beat last year after thrilling exchange of leads. Kibiwott and Kosgei took part in the KDF event for the first time last year.

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