Uganda gears up to host 2017 World Cross Country event

Kampala, Nov 10 (IANS) Although feeling the financial pinch, Uganda is determined to put up a good show when it hosts the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championship.

Preparations are in high gear, according to organisers, for the event that comes to the east African region for the second time after Kenya hosted it in 2007, reports Xinhua.

Dominic Otuchet, Uganda Athletics Federation president, said on Wednesday that the event that will attract over 800 athletes in senior and junior categories will cost the country over $2 million.

“We are going to make sure all the hotels for the athletes and officials together with the running course and issues of security are all handled perfectly,” Otuchet said.

Minister of State for Sports Charles Bakkabulindi said: “We are aware that a lot of money is still needed, but we shall work hand in hand with other supporters to make sure all moves on smoothly.”

Road works and renovations of hotels in the city have already started ahead of the March 26 event.

The country’s star athletes have already entered their training camp. Stephen Kiprotich, the 2012 Olympic marathon gold medal winner, is one of the key athletes that Uganda is banking on to win medals.

Kiprotich, who finished a distant 16th at the 2016 Rio Olympics, has never run in a cross country event.

“We are confident the team we have named is good enough and will be trimmed after trials,” Otuchet said on Wednesday.

Uganda head coach Benjamin Longiross said he wants to show the world that the African nation has some of the best athletes.

Each of the participating countries is expected to field six runners per event. The championship will feature the men and women’s senior’s event and the junior boys and girls events.

Joshua Cheptegai, who captained Uganda at the Rio Olympics, together with Philip Kipyeko and women runners Stella Chesang and Juliet Chekwel are part of Uganda’s team that is training.