Lemotit Athletics Camp – the reservoir that keeps giving
Gilbert KiprotichChief athletics writer
As the National Cross Country Championships nears, the stakes couldn’t have been higher for Lemotit Athletics Camp.
Located in Londiani, Kericho County, the profile of the camp is on a steady rise and this is perhaps exemplified by the fact that, at the weekend assignment, they’ll parade a whooping 15 athletes, all challenging for honours at the Ngong Race Course in Nairobi.
No Camp or team has higher representation than them, pointing to the hard work that goes into shaping the athletics.
And as if that is not enough, all their candidates for the crucial weekend duty are girls, bubbling with energy, dreams, hopes and aspirations.
Founded by former Paralympian Paul Kemei, Lemotit is slowly establishing itself as a force of reckon not just in the South Rift region but the country at large.
The camp is home to renowned athletes with the likes of World Junior Cross Country champion Beatrice Chebet, Sandrafelis Chebet and Emily Chebet, among the many prominent names that have risen through the ranks, from the youth level to now senior category.
The trio is only but a minority as most of the athletes are still at the youth and junior levels while also continuing with their studies in Primary and Secondary schools.
And to perhaps understand why the Camp is drawing much interest from athletics pundits, one needs to look no further than the South Rift and Nairobi region championships where athletes from the camp ran the show to earn slots to the national event primed for Saturday at the Ngong Race Course.
Chebet, also the world under-20 5000m champion, won the 1okm race at the South Rift championships held in Nakuru a fortnight ago and will relish her chances on Saturday.
Also in the start list for the senior race, are Sandrafelis, Emily and Ann Nasisyo who ranked first, second and fourth respectively at the Nairobi championships held on Sunday. Their presence in the Saturday event makes for an intriguing duel.
The trio of Triza Cherotich, Dorcas Chepkemoi and Diana Chepkorir who dominated the Nairobi event in the 6km Under-20 race also made the cut.
At the same time, a record eight athletes will compete in the 5km Under-18 race; Iscah Chelangat, Florence Chepkoech, Joyline Chepkemoi, Dorcas Chepkemoi, Miriam Chemutai, Fancy Chepkorir, Daisy Chepkorir and Sharon Chepkemei.
While Kemei could not hide his delight on the success of his athletes at the regional level, the joy seems to be fading away as the nationals championship fast approaches.
“I am really elated to have 15 athletes competing at the national championships; this is a reward for the hard work the athletes have put in. I can say it is due to the discipline and dedication and above all our trust in God,” he explained.
“My prayer now is for them to also shine on Saturday. You know it is one thing to qualify and entirely different to perform so we are now in our final touches,” said Kemei.
The one day event will also double up as trials for the Affrica Cross Country Championships that will be held in Lome, Togo on March 7.
With the continental event having been delayed by a year due to Covid-19 pandemic, Kemei said his athletes are hungry than ever, inching for the ticket to the west African country.
“All athletes are really fired up for the fight, more so, Isca (Chelangat) who had qualified for last year’s event that was postponed,” he said.
With top stars including the likes of the defending champion Sheila Chelangat also in contention for the top prize, Kemei is wary of the challenge ahead.
“I know it will be tough since all athletes who will be competing on Saturday will be strong and therefore what I can say is for the best athlete to win.”