Nairobi, Feb 5 (IANS) The annual Kenya National Cross-Country Championship lost its international status after the athletics-mad nation failed to meet the stipulated obligations.
For the championship to be classified as an IAAF event, it must have nationals from at least five countries who are invited to compete at the organisers’ own expense, reports Xinhua news agency.
The Kenyan chapter has been one of the 12 events sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) across the globe.
“We don’t have the resources to stage the event as a permit meeting and, therefore, this year the challenge will be hosted as a national championship only,” Athletics Kenya’s Senior Vice President Paul Mutwii said on Saturday.
This year’s event will take place on February 18 in Nairobi and will be used to select the national team to represent the country at the IAAF World Cross Championships scheduled for March 26 in Kampala.
With the loss of the international status, the event will this year feature entrants almost exclusively from Kenya who will represent their home regions or national teams like Kenya Defence Forces, Kenya Police, Kenya Prisons and Universities.
These teams have already hosted their own annual team championships to decide their selection for the national event.
The event attracts very high standard of athletes which reflects Kenya’s strength in long-distance running, which has seen the country win all but four of the men’s team world titles since 1986 and numerous women’s team titles since 1990.
Kenya’s Paul Tergat is the most successful athlete of the championships, having won the men’s title on four occasions, whereas another Kenyan, Jane Ngotho, is the most successful woman courtesy of her three straight victories from 1988 to 1990.
Apart from the traditional schedule of junior men and women, and senior men and women competitions, this year’s world cross-country championship will also feature the newly-introduced mixed-gender relay race in its programme.