Aprot seeking a cure for Guiyang WXC heartbreak in Kampala
Alice Aprot is keen to atone for being dropped from the Kenyan squad for the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China when she lines up for competition at the forthcoming edition in Kampala, Uganda on March 26.
To date, the African Cross titleholder does not understand why selectors overlooked her for the final team despite finishing fifth at the 2015 National Championships and she is now determined to put together a podium run at Kololo Independence Anniversary Grounds in Kampala to prove her point.
Since then, Aprot has established herself as one of the most fearsome female distance runners on the planet, winning the Nationals last year en-route to collecting the senior women Africa Cross crown in Yaoundé, Cameroon, winning the African 10,000m title in Durban, South Africa and finishing fourth over the same distance at the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Despite losing her domestic title to Irene Cheptai, Aprot is pleased selectors have given her the nod to run for her nation in Kampala where she hopes to land her first World Cross medal on her second outing at the global showpiece.
The soft-spoken Aprot, a 25-lap specialist is using the World Cross as part of her preparations for the August 4-13 IAAF World Championships in London.
Winning the World Cross title strikes closer home after watching the national anthem play in honour of elder brother, Joseph Ebuya when he won the men long race individual gold at the 2010 edition in Bydgoszcz, Poland where Aprot was in the junior women 6km team.
At the time, she finished ninth before sitting back and watching from the stands as her brother made history.
“I cannot say I will be going there to win because I have not prepared the way I would prefer but with the time left, I hope to do as much as I can.
“I hope that the course will be okay and I will be able to have a great run. It will be fun to go back in Kampala after two years,” the 2015 All African Games 10,000m champion who won junior bronze in Kampala when Uganda hosted the 2014 Africa Cross stated.
At the 2017 Nationals, Aprot finished fourth behind Cheptai, Lillian Kasait and Faith Chepng’etich to make the Kampala-bound World Cross senior women 10km team.
Aprot explains her domestic title defence was affected by the fact she was also finishing her studies at the Kenya Prisons Staff Training College (PSTC) Ruiru, Kiambu County where she graduated as a Prisons Wardress three days before the Nationals at Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens.
Rio Olympics 800m bronze winner and Team Kenya teammate for Kampala, Margaret Nyairera was a fellow PSTC recruit.
“I really wanted to defend my national title but I could not since I was to train for the National Cross Country and follow the Prisons course at the same time.
“I thank God that I finished fourth and I’m very happy that I will be one of those representing Kenya in Kampala,” she underscored.
Following changes in the World Cross format, the 2017 World Cross will see the senior women run 10km, two above the established distance and this poses a challenge according to Aprot.
“It was challenge at the National Championships because you could not know where to start breaking off from the chasing pack and where to start kicking. But now since it’s a long run, one is obliged to do speed, endurance and other training so that you can be comfortable during the race. We will be ready to compete and win,” Aprot offered.
Defending champion, Agnes Tirop, two-time junior World Cross winner and Olympics champion, Faith Chepng’etich, Kasait and steeplechase world champion, Hyvin Kiyeng complete the imposing Kenyan senior women line-up for Kampala.
Aprot won her first senior medal during the 2014 Africa Cross at the same Kololo venue in Kampala when she rounded the podium as Kenya struck team gold.
Two years later, she was peerless in Cameroon where she led Sheila Chepkirui and Beatrice Mutai to the Kenyan podium sweep in the women long race as her nation cleaned all the eight gold medals on offer.
-Rio Olympics Surge-
She was given wildcard entry for Rio after dominating the African Championships in Durban in the 25 –lap race and during the final, Aprot charged to an early lead, taking the finalists through the opening 1000m in 3:01.53 and was at the lead until half way where she started fading.
Aprot set the conditions right for Ethiopian Almaz Ayana to break the world record that had stood since 1993. Ayana did not only set a world record of 29:17.45 but pushed silver medallist Vivian Cheruiyot to set a national record of 29:32.53.
“What made go fast and lead in most laps is because I had seen that the world record had been there for a while and I had the experience on the track.
“I put in the extra effort so that I can post a better time because I knew that I did not have a strong finish since Vivian and Ayana had a better kick. My plan was to go out very fast so that when they pass, I would have at least ran a personal best or be in the medal bracket,” Aprot explained the surge that was labelled insane in some quarters.
Despite missing on a medal, she was part of the fastest ever female 10,000m race of all time where she was rewarded by a lifetime best of 29:53.51 in fourth.
She denied accusations her crazy breakout in Rio was motivated by selfishness.
“No, we had not discussed anything on how to approach the race and neither did we ever meet to plan on it. That was not the only mistake.
“A race is a race and if you are defeated in a race do not blame it on someone else it was God’s plan. I was contended with my position,” Aprot maintained.
She is among those seeking to fill the void left by Cheruiyot in distance track running after the ‘Pocket Rocket’ switched to the full marathon with a debut in London lined-up next month.
“I would love to run the way she used to on the track and bring more medals in the 10,000m,” she underlined.