Steeplechase champion Kiyeng withdraws from world cross-country
Nairobi, Feb 8: World steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi of Kenya is the latest athlete to pull out of the World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala next month.
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Kiyeng, who won gold at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, said she is focused on building up her body for the defence of her title at the London World Championships in August, reports Xinhua news agency.
"I have just started my training after a long holiday. The competition in Kenya is always stiff and even me doing well here in the buildup does not signify that I have keen to contest the national championships next week," Kiyeng said on Wednesday from Eldoret.
"I have always valued cross-country because it helps me build up strongly. I will certainly not compete in the Kenyan trials, which means I will not be traveling to Kampala," she added.
However, Kiyeng is keen to shake off her fatigue and regain her fitness ahead of the IAAF Diamond League, which starts in May in Doha, Qatar.
She hopes to compete in selected meetings to gauge herself before heading to London in defence of her title.
"I have a wild card for the World Championships. But it will be harder to defend the title because there are more people coming through the ranks in Kenya and abroad, who are eyeing to dethrone me. But I want to be at my best form to challenge them and hopefully retain my title," she said.
Besides Kiyeng, Kenya will also miss the service of former world cross country champion Vivian Cheruiyot and Hellen Obiri, the Olympic 5,000m silver medallist.
However, this will not water down the level of competition that Kenya plans to take to Kampala for the championships, which will be held on March 26.
Kenya can bank on Alice Aprot Nawowuna, the Africa cross country champion, Olympic 1500m champion Faith Chepng'etich Kipyegon, Viola Kibiwott and Mercy Cherono.