AK president promises world class event at next week’s Sirikwa Cross Country

Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jack Tuwei has promised another world-class Sirikwa Cross Country Championship event at the Lobo Village on February 3.

Tuwei said they hope to build on the first two editions to deliver an unforgettable event.  “To stage the international event is not a walk in the park but I believe we have what it takes to deliver a world-class event judging from the first two editions and other international events,” said Tuwei during the event’s launch in Eldoret on Wednesday. 

He urged spectators to turn up in huge numbers and cheer their favourite athletes on home soil. “This is not a small thing to organize. We hope our spectators will come in large numbers and cheer their favourite athletes,” said Tuwei.

The organizers have promised to incorporate all athletes as they seek to build World Athletics’ confidence in Kenya’s capacity to host international events.

“Apart from the seniors, junior athletes are very important. We need to discover and rediscover more athletes,” said Tuwei. 

Race director, Barnaba Korir, said they have increased the prize purse for the event after receiving support from the government. “Being a Gold Label event, we have to ensure we meet the standards. However, we have surpassed the requirements and we shall pay more (winners cash prizes) than expected,” said Korir.

He revealed that athletes from 17 nations have registered for the race.

“For us to keep our ‘Gold Label status’, we must have more than three countries represented. We have 17 countries already interested and we expect the number of foreign athletes to beat last year,” said Korir.

Meanwhile, Robert Kiprop, Lilian Kasait, and Nicholas Kimeli are among the athletes who have confirmed participation in the third edition of the Sirikwa Cross Country Championships.

Kasait, the 2017 World Cross Country bronze medalist, will make her debut and has vowed to rule the show. “I will try my best to be on the podium. We have always wanted to compete before our fans in this kind of race,” said Kasait. She called on fans to turn up in large numbers to cheer the athletes.

Kimeli returns for his second Sirikwa cross-country outing after 2022, where he finished second in 30:00 behind Samwel Maswai (29:46).

“In 2022, I finished second but I hope to win (the race) this time. I have been training to ensure I compete successfully at Sirikwa. This will be part of my build-up for the World Cross Country Championships,” said Kimeli.

Kiprop, the 2019 African Games 5000m champion, will be using the event as part of his build-up for the track season.  “I want to ensure that I perform well at home ahead of the African Games. I have always wanted to defend my continental title. That journey starts here,” he said.

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