Kenya's Tirop ready to put world cross country title on line in Kampala
World Cross country champion Agnes Tirop of Kenya has endured two years out of competition since her win in Guiyang, China in 2015.
A right leg tendon injury, which she picked up on her way to win gold in Guiyang, punctured her sails and derailed what looked to be a promising career for the then 19-year old.
She has struggled to regain her fitness and stature in the choking long distance field and World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda on March 26 will offer her the first major platform, globally, to stamp her authority.
"It is true I am nervous. It has been a while since I made the Kenya team. You always wonder if you will come back strong and whether your body will take the challenge. I have done well in training and now it is about time I prove myself on the world stage again," she said Wednesday in Embu.
The Kenyan team has pitched camp in Embu for the last two weeks training and hope to cross to neighbouring Uganda lay siege on the medals as the cross country championships returns to Africa for the fifth time after Johannesburg, Marrakech, Rabat and Mombasa.
However, Tirop now 21 will not be expecting a walk in the pack as she puts her title on the line in the Ugandan Capital.
There will be World 3,000m steeplechase champ Hyving Kiyeng and Olympic 1,500m winner Faith Chepng' etich Kipyegon to content with.
There will also be Bahrain import Ruth Jebet, the Rio Olympics champion in 3,000m steeplechase, and a horde of Ugandans, Qatari, Eritrea and Ethiopian stars.
But Tirop is ready to take the challenge in her strides, just like she did during the Kenyan trials where she finished fifth behind Kiyeng, Kipyegon and Alice Aprot.
Meanwhile, the men's 1,500m World champion Asbel Kiprop is oozing in confidence he will overcome his enemies and fears as he makes a return to the World Cross Country Championships for the first time in 10 years.
Kiprop will be making the relay cross country team, a newly introduced races of mixed races run like a relay event, after his only show back in 2007 World Cross in Mombasa, where he won the junior 8km cadre.
He has however, expressed his dislike of the event because of the strenuous training and exercise the team goes through to get fit.
"Back in 2007, I thought I was dying, sleeping on ice cubes after the race in such humid conditions made me believe all marathons are like the one in Mombasa. So I said I'll never run in cross country again," he said.
But that will not deter him from making the team to Kampala where he will feature in the 4x2km relay race.