NAIROBI, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri launched her Tokyo Olympic Games preparations with victory in the first leg of the Athletics Kenya Cross Country circuit held on Saturday in Machakos.
The versatile Obiri covered the first 3km running behind world steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, before winning the muddy 10km course in 32 minutes and 29.2 seconds.
Kenya Police's Caroline Nyaga ran 32:46.8 in second place, ahead of Kenyan-born Winfred Mutile of Bahrain who finished third in 32:47.5.
Chepkoech, also the world record holder in the steeplechase, pulled out after 6km.
"The cross country courses are always challenging, and this one is unique, it was marked with mud following heavy downpours but that is what makes the race interesting," said Obiri.
"Generally, it has given me a chance to start my Olympic preparations on a high, and I'm hopeful I will compete in several races to strengthen myself towards the Tokyo Olympics," she added.
In the corresponding men's 10km, Daniel Simiu commanded the race from the gun to finish.
The 25-year old, who is using the cross country as part of his preparations towards the World Indoor Tour in February, clocked 28 minutes and 27.7 seconds to win the race, while Isaac Kibet finished second in 28:54.68 with Elvis Cheboi closing the podium in 28:54.9.
"I have a target of competing at the World Indoor Series in February - my debut at the indoors races - and I hope to compete in the 3,000m event and eventually represent Kenya at the World Indoors Championships in March. And, of course, a ticket to the Olympic Games will be hugely appreciated," Simiu said.
The World Indoor Championships was delayed by one year to March 19 to 21 next year in Nanjing, China.
Emmanuel Maru (22:48.8) and Felociana Jepkosgei (19:21.6) were the winners in the men's and women's under-20 race respectively.
Meanwhile, Athletics Kenya has scaled down its cross country series from five to three events to cope with 2021's congested calendar. The next stops will be in Nandi County on December 19 and Nyandarua County on January 9.
The National Cross Country Championships cum trials are slated for February 20, 2021 where a team will be picked for the World Cross Country Championships scheduled for Australia in March. Enditem