Tergat backs Kenyan stars

NAIROBI - Former five-time world cross-country champion Paul Tergat on Saturday said it would be a fitting honour for Kenya to win the world cross-country men's 12km title before the championship becomes a biennial event in 2012.

NAIROBI - Former five-time world cross-country champion Paul Tergat on Saturday said it would be a fitting honour for Kenya to win the world cross-country men's 12km title before the championship becomes a biennial event in 2012.

This year's championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland in March will be the last one to be held annually since 1973, and Tergat, who was the last Kenyan runner to win the title 11 years ago, says Kenya has the last chance to end the long wait.

"I believe there is a strong commitment from the athletes to correct their past mistakes," said Tergat at the Armed Forces cross-country championships on Saturday.

"Since this is the last championship until the next one in 2012, I am hoping we will reclaim the title in Poland. It is a prestige to win the men's 12k."

The 40-year-old Tergat, who has been appointed a technical member of the Kenyan military sports association, dominated the world championship, winning the men's race between 1995 and 1999. He also won two Olympic 10000m silver medals.

The world 12km men's individual titleholder is Ethiopia's Gebre Gebremariam, who succeeded compatriot and six-time champion Kenenisa Bekele when he surprisingly won the prize in Amman, Jordan last March. - Sapa

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