Kenya and Ethiopia set to clash in World Athletics Cross Country Championships


As the stage is set for the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, all eyes are on the anticipated clash between perennial rivals Kenya and Ethiopia in the mixed relay event.

With both nations boasting impressive track records in the competition, the battle for supremacy promises to be fiercely contested.

Since the inception of the mixed relay in 2017, Kenya has emerged victorious twice, while Ethiopia has secured one title, adding an extra layer of intensity to their rivalry.

In Kampala seven years ago, Kenya clinched the inaugural relay crown ahead of Ethiopia and Turkiye, marking the beginning of their dominance in the event. However, Ethiopia swiftly retaliated in Aarhus in 2019, claiming victory over Morocco and Kenya.

In the most recent edition held in Bathurst in 2023, Kenya reclaimed the title, denying Ethiopia and host nation Australia the top spot on the podium.

Now, with the World Athletics Cross Country Championships set to unfold in Belgrade, the Kenyan squad is poised for a formidable title defense, aiming to extend their reign in the mixed relay event.

The mixed relay event will see teams comprising two women and two men, each running one loop of the course in the order of man-woman-man-woman.

Athletes in action during a past championship. PHOTO: World Athletics

With a course loop spanning 1887 meters, the athletes must navigate through the challenging terrain, ensuring a seamless transition within the takeover zone.

Kenya and Ethiopia are among the 12 teams entered in the competition, with both nations vying for gold once again in Friendship Park.

Kenya’s squad, led by Emmanuel Wanyonyi, boasts a blend of experience and talent, including Mirriam Cherop and Kyumbe Munguti, who played pivotal roles in their previous victory. The final composition of the team will be declared 95 minutes before the race.

Ethiopia, led by world 5km champion Hagos Gebrhiwet, presents a formidable challenge to Kenya’s aspirations. With a squad comprising Adehena Kasaye and Birri Abera, among others, Ethiopia is determined to reclaim the top spot on the podium.

As the countdown to the championship intensifies, other contenders, including Morocco and the United States, are gearing up for a fierce battle.

With athletes like Nozomi Tanaka representing Japan, and the host nation Serbia fielding a formidable team, the competition promises to showcase thrilling displays of athleticism and determination.

With pride, honor, and the coveted title at stake, the stage is set for an electrifying showdown between Kenya and Ethiopia as they renew their rivalry on the cross-country terrain of Belgrade.

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