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Atletics Kenya invites Mo Farah, Chinese runners

12 February 2014, 08:23

Nairobi - Britain's double Olympic and world track champion, Mo Farah, has been invited to run during Saturday's IAAF Permit Kenya National Cross Country Championships in Nairobi.

Athletics Kenya (AK) deputy president in charge of logistics, Lt. Gen. (Rtd), Jack Tuwei, said on Tuesday that Farah and his British teammates who are currently preparing for the season in the northern town of Iten as well as Chinese nationals training at the same camp, had been approached to participate in the annual event.

Tuwei also confirmed 12 foreign nationals had confirmed participation at the event where Kenya will select her team for the March 15 Africa Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda.

"We have talked to them but they have not confirmed. Mo Farah will run the London Marathon in April and this would be a good preparation for him to do practise here," Tuwei said of inviting the British track star and his colleagues who are training in Iten and based at the Lornah Kiplagat Sports Academy.

"We have runners from many countries including China who are also welcome so that we make this an international event and give our runners competition. If they come, we shall only get to select a stronger team for Uganda," the official added.

"It will be an IAAF organised Permit Meeting and so far we have four countries that have confirmed with two from Ethiopia, two from Eritrea, four from Uganda and four from Bahrain."

"We are still expecting one or two to come and run the Permit meet and the start list will be ready by tomorrow (Wednesday)," the deputy president affirmed.

Besides the foreign entries, local stars such as two-time New York Marathon champion, Geoffrey Mutai, the fastest male over a marathon course with 2:03:02 (Boston 2011), who will face Farah on April 13 in London are lined up to compete.

Others, including reigning World Cross champion, Emily Chebet, 2011 World Cross junior gold medallist, Geoffrey Kipsang, World championships bronze winner, Mercy Cherono and 2012 Boston champion, Sharon Cherop are also expected.

Tuwei was speaking during the presentation of 139,211 U.S. dollars in sponsorship from Kenya Commercial Bank towards the domestic six-meet series that is now concluded and Saturday's showdown in Nairobi.

"We have information that international media will be present to see how their nationals fare during the event against our runners who are proven world beaters in cross country."

"We welcome them to train with our runners and it is up to us to step up our game since they are learning our methods and tactics," Tuwei remarked on whether the infiltration of foreign athletes in Kenya's training hot spots such as Iten and Eldoret was causing them concern.

Organizers will cater for all expenses incurred by foreign runners as part of fulfilling conditions for the event to be recognised as an IAAF Permit event.

- Xinhua

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