Kenya: Obiri, Kandie Ready for KDF Cross Country Championships

26 January 2021

Hellen Obiri will be out to reclaim the women's title, while Kibowott Kandie aims to seal a hat-trick at the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Cross Country Championships on Friday at the Moi Air Base.

Obiri, the World Cross Country and World 5,000m champion, failed to defend her crown last year and will be hoping to clinch the military honours for the fifth time as she also targets to reclaim the national title.

Obiri reigned supreme for the first time at the KDF event in 2014, before securing a hat-trick of titles from 2017 to 2019 on her way to winning the national and world titles the same year.

It was the first time Obiri took part in the national and World Cross Country competitions.

That saw her make history as the first athlete to win the World Indoor (3,000), World Championships (5,000m) and World Cross Country Championships (10km) titles.

"It's my desire to recapture both the KDF and national titles before I focus on the track season ahead," said Obiri, who launched her season in style, winning the opening leg of Athletic Kenya Cross Country Series on November 28 in Machakos.

"I have nothing to worry about at the moment as I try to maintain my good shape," explained Obiri, who will decide whether to double in the 10,000m and 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympic Games, after the two opening legs of the 2021 Diamond League in Rabat (May 23) and Doha (May 28).

"My ultimate dream is to win the Olympic title this time around," said the optimistic Obiri, who settled for silver in the 5,000m during the 2016 Rio Olympics, as compatriot Vivian Cheruiyot won her maiden Olympic gold medal.

Record-holder Kandie

Kandie stormed to the national limelight when he won the KDF title in 2019 at Kahawa Garrison, defended it at Laikipia Airbase in 2020, before causing a major upset after winning the national title at Ngong Racecourse the same year.

More international glory awaited Kandie after he won silver at the World Half Marathon on October 17 in Poland and his Half Marathon World record breaking feat (57:32) in Valencia on December 6.

"For sure I want to seal a hat-trick before I can focus on anything else," said Kandie, who won the national title on February 15, before winning the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates a week later.

Whether Kandie will be able to defend both his titles during the national cross country on February 13 at Ngong Racecourse, and Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on February 19 m s left to be known.

"I still have time to decide, but remember I went on to win in RAK days after my national cross exploits last year," said Kandie, adding that the races are part of his preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games, where he will be eying to compete in the 10,000m.

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