NAIROBI — Olympic 5,000m silver medalist Hellen Obiri says Uganda will be the dark horse in the long distance races at the World Championships.
Obiri, who secured her dream to make a double attempt to win the 10,000m and 5,000m races at the Championships, says it is no longer safe to ignore Uganda athletes’ recent rise in the distance races and asked her teammates to treat their East Africa neighbors with respect as they hold the Ethiopia, Bahrain, USA and Qatar runners at arm’s length.
Obiri will team up with world 10,000 meter bronze medalist Agnes Jebet and Rosemary Wanjiru in their bid to end Kenya’s eight-year wait to win gold in the distance.
Vivian Cheruiyot, last won Kenya gold in the 10,000m race at the 2011 Daegu World Championships with Linet Masai winning in Berlin in 2009.
“I have always had a dream to win two gold at a championship. Some athletes like Cheruiyot, Tirunesh Dibaba have done it, why not me. I want to go and defend my 5,000m title but also use every available energy in my body to win the 10,000m title too,” Obiri said.
“I believe Uganda has shown keen rise in quality lately and they must be treated carefully. They can surprise anyone,” she added.
Agnes Jebet, the 2015 world cross country champion from Guiyang, China, is now keen on upgrading her bronze from London in 2017 to gold in Doha.
“For me the 2017 season was my first time at that big stage where I managed personal best 31:03.50 for bronze. I have enough experience now on track and I hope to uphold my form and good training to Doha,” Jebet noted.
Athletics Kenya vice chairman Barnaba Korir say they are treating the 10,000m race with care because it requires more to prepare and strategize to beat the opposition. That is why they held the trials more than a month prior to the event in Doha.
“Unlike in other events, 10,000m athletes need time to recover. The 10,000m has become a sprint with athletes from not only Ethiopia but also Uganda posing a major threat. This time, we want to work with coaches to ensure everything runs according to schedule,” Korir said.
“The team of Jebet, Obiri and Wanjiru has the power and strength and depth. Nobody can rule them out. Obiri is an organizer par excellence and even a clean sweep is possible.”
The World Championships in Doha, Qatar will be held from September 28 to October 6.