Team Kenya head coach Julius Kirwa and captain Kibiwott Kandie have exuded confidence that they will do the country proud at this Saturday’s World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia.
Speaking during a dinner banquet in their honour at the Weston Hotel on Sunday night, Kirwa said all the athletes are in top physical shape and are motivated for the rescheduled global showpiece.
“We have prepared well in training for the past month and a half. From my assessment, I can say that the team is in good physical shape. All of them are ready and motivated to fly the national flag high. All I ask you, dear Kenyans, is to pray for your sons and daughters so that they may excel,” Kirwa said.
He added that they are not stressed by the challenge posed by other nations, such as Ethiopia and Uganda but that they are simply focused on applying their training.
“For us, we do not train while thinking about the threat posed by this country or that one. Many people think these two countries are our biggest threat but there are also the likes of Australia who I know have a very good team,” he said.
Back from wilderness
Team captain Kandie echoed the sentiments of his coach, noting that the belief in the squad is sky-high as they seek to maintain Kenya’s reputation as the cradle of cross country.
“We have been in training for the past month and have really put a lot into it. The coaches have done everything to ensure that we are ready for this battle. It is now up to us to show what we are made of when we get onto that course. Personally, I am full of belief that we can come back from Australia with a medal harvest,” Kandie said.
The former world half marathon record holder will be donning the Team Kenya singlet for the first time since 2020 when he won silver at the World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland.
“It is true that I have had a lot of challenges with injuries in the last year. That is now behind me and my focus is to do well and make up for lost time. My body has been responding well and it was quite a joy to make this team for Australia,” he said.
Kandie will be competing in the senior men’s race and believes, alongside three-time World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor and Commonwealth Games 5000m silver medalist Daniel Simiu, they will bring home the crown.
“Yes, it is a team with a lot of experience. The three of us will work really hard to bring glory to the country. This is my first time representing Kenya in an international cross country event and I am so excited to take part in it,” he said.
The team departed for Australia on Sunday night in time to acclimatize before d-day.