Uganda National Cross Country Champion, Thomas Ayeko will lead the 24 strong Uganda Team to the 2012 Africa Cross Country Championships in Cape Town on Sunday 18 March. Uganda will field a full complement of athletes (6 in each category)
The 20 year-old Ayeko entered his first year as a senior athlete after finishing 2nd at the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain on 20 March, this after he finished 18th at the World Championships in 2010.
Despite the absence of star athletes such as Moses Kipsiro, Benjamin Kiplagat and Stephen Kiprotich from the Ugandan team, strong opposition is still expected from Uganda.
Kipsiro (the 2009 World Cross Country silver medallist and 11th in 2011) and Kiprotich (6th at the 2011 World Championships) have been omitted from the team after they failed to participate in the National Cross Country Championships in Uganda. The versatile Benjamin Kiplagat represented Uganda at the World Cross Country as junior in 2007 and 2008 but failed to finish in the top 6 at the National Championships, leaving the gap open for new youngsters to move up the ranks.
Abraham Kiplimo, Timothy Toroitich, Jacob Araptany, Phillip Kiplimo and Peter Kibet make up the rest of the Senior Men’s team. Although none have them have represented Uganda at Senior level, all have competed internationally as Juniors.
The women include Annet Negesa, who was unchallenged at the National Championships after she ran a solo race to defend the senior women’s title in 26:22. Negesa finished 8th at the Africa Cross Country Championships last year and was also included in the team for the World Cross Country Championships in Spain where she finished 66th.
Viola Chemos finished 2nd at the national Championships and also had the honour of representing her country in Spain.
The competitiveness of the Ugandan women can be noted in the finishing times. First and second place was separated by only 6 seconds while the difference in time between the third place and 6th place was a mere 8 seconds. Rebecca Cheptegei and Stella Cheruto who competed at the World Cross Country Championships in 2011, finished 3rd and 4th respectively at their Championships, both in 27:26. Other women include Phanice Chemutai and Juliet Heckwel.
Junior men: Alex Cherop Kapcheromit, Nathan Ayeko, Abdallah Mande, Moses Kurong, Michael Cherop and Wycliffe Kiplangat
Junior Women: Nancy Cheptegei, Stella Chesang, Patricia Chepkwemboi, Stella Chebet, Brenda Cherop and Doreen Sande.
The Africa Cross Country Championships will take place at the Western Province Cricket Club grounds in Keurboom Park. The opening ceremony will start at 09:00.
Other countries to compete at the Championships are: South Africa, Kenya, Eritrea, Morocco, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Congo, Egypt, Mauritius, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zambia, Angola, Botswana, Sudan, Namibia, Swaziland, Malawi, Lesotho and Zimbabwe
photo credit: Norman Katende