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Beatrice Chebet hopes to defend World Cross title

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Beatrice Chebet
World Championship silver medalist Beatrice Chebet
  • Chebet won the last edition in Australia
  • She is looking to win back to back titles
  • The men are looking to dethrone Uganda’s Kiplimo

 Beatrice Chebet will look to defend her World Cross Country Championship title when she lines up in belgrade, Serbia. Chebet won the crown at the last edition of the Championships in Bathurst, Australia and will look to make it back to back titles in Poland.

She has been a woman on form from last season. On top of winning gold in Bathurst, she was also victorious over 5km at the World Road Running Championships in Riga. Meanwhile, on the track in recent years she has earned silver and bronze medals over 5000m at the World Championships, plus gold at the same distance at the Commonwealth Games and African Championships.

“I believe I have trained well and I feel my body is in good shape. This is my first target of the season, to ensure that I have defended my World Cross title. It will not be easy because competition is always tough but I have faith in what I have done in training,” Chebet said ahead of the World Championships.

She adds; “We would want to do well as Team Kenya and we want to go work as a team because that will be the best way to ensure the title remains home.”

Chebet will face stiff competition, top of them being Agnes Ngetich who finished third in Australia at the last edition.

Ngetich went on to place sixth in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Budapest. She then started 2024 in incredible form, smashing the world 10km record with a stunning run of 28:46 in Valencia, having passed through 5km in 14:13, equalling Chebet’s world record for that distance.

Chebet and Ngetich top favourites

Beatrice Chebet

Beatrice Chebet celebrating at the Commonwealth Games. PHOTO/Team kenya

More recently, Ngetich won the highly competitive Kenyan Cross Country Championships, winning by three seconds from Emmaculate Anyango, who will also be one to watch in Belgrade.

Anyango has made great strides in recent months. After reducing her 10km PB to 30:01 in Lille in November last year, she chopped more than a minute off that time when finishing second to Ngetich in Valencia in January, clocking 28:57 – making her the second-fastest woman in history for the distance.

The Kenyan team also features Lilian Kasait and Margaret Chelimo, both of whom took silver medals – over 5km and the half marathon respectively – at the World Road Running Championships last year. Cintia Chepngeno rounds out the team and she’ll be looking to make amends for her DNF in Bathurst last year.

It’s not inconceivable that Kenya could replicate their perfect 1-2-3-4-5-6 finish from the 2017 World Cross, but if anyone stands to disrupt a Kenyan sweep, then look to the Ethiopian squad.

Girmawit Gebrzihair won Ethiopia’s national trial race. The 2018 African U20 cross-country champion, who has a half marathon PB of 1:04:14, will be competing at her first major championships as a senior.

Compatriot Tadelech Bekele, the two-time Amsterdam Marathon champion, last represented Ethiopia back in 2014 at the African Cross Country Championships. She has competed sparingly in recent years, but it’s difficult to ignore a 2:21:40 marathon performer.

Ethiopians also look to battle for the title 

World Cross Country

Action during a past World Cross Country Championship

Others on the Ethiopian team include marathon specialist Sisay Meseret Gola, and teenagers Bertukan Welde and Mebrat Gidey.

Uganda’s Rachael Zena Chebet has been the best non-Kenyan/Ethiopian performer at the World Cross in the past decade, having finished fourth in 2019. The 27-year-old  won the Ugandan cross-country title by 25 seconds and will be keen to lead her team to another medal, having earned team bronze in 2019.

Meanwhile in the men’s race, the Kenyan contingent will look to dethorone Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo as defending champion.

Uganda has claimed back-to-back senior men’s titles through Kiplimo and Cheptegei, and these two will race to claim a historic hat-trick for their country.

After missing out on an individual medal in Bathurst last year, the Kenyan men will be keen to make the podium this time.

World half marathon champion Mathew Sawe leads the cross-country powerhouse nation. He is joined on the Kenyan team by world U20 cross-country champion Ishmael Kipkurui, world 5km bronze medallist Nicholas Kipkorir, and rising trio Samwel Chebolei Masai, 2021 world U20 5000m champion Benson Kiplangat and Gideon Kipkertich Rono.

-Additional information courtesy World Athletics

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