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‘The Star’ reports: Team USA relies on Barnaba Korir siblings to upend Kenya in Denmark

FIVE Kenyan-born runners have been named in the final United States team to the World Cross Country Championships in Denmark at the end of this month.

Ironically, the American is based on the strength of Kenyans the premier team in the world championships. Athletics Kenya’s official in charge of youth development of the sport in Barnaba Korir an ex-runner who studied in the USA where the current x-country strength revolves around his three nephews Julius, Hillary and Emmanuel Bor, the two latter who are in Team USA to Aarhus, Denmark.

Hillary Bor of the US Army contests and gains selection for Team USA to the world cross country championships in Aarhus, Denmark

Hillary Bor of the US Army contests and gains selection for Team USA to the world cross country championships in Aarhus, Denmark. TOP: The US team’s Leonard Korir and Shadrack Kipchirchir  in Kampala, Uganda, during the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2017

The US national cross country champion Shadrack Kipchirchir, a 2016 Rio Olympic 10,000m finalist, leads the team of 28 for the March 30 championships. The US senior men’s team will be:

  • Shadrack Kipchirchir, 30 – (US champion, 2016 Rio Olympic 10,000m finalist. Born Eldoret Uasin Gishu County; school – Western Kentucky and Oklahoma State University)
  • Leonard Korir, 32 – (2018 US cross-country champion. Born Iten, Elgeyo/Marakwet County; school – Tambach Teachers College Kenya, Iona College New York )
  • Hillary Bor, 29 – (Born Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County; school – Arnesens High School south of Eldoret, Iowa State University)
  • Emmanuel Bor, 30 – (One of two other brothers of Hillary Bor. Born Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County; school – Iowa State)
  • Stanley Kebenei, 29 (Son of Samuel and Alice Kebenei. Has three siblings, Frankline, Viola and Evelyne. Born Nakuru County Kenya; school – Fayetteville High School, Fayetteville, Ark; Iowa Central Community College, University of Arkansas)
  • Mason Ferlic, 26 – (2016 NCAA Steeplechase Champion. Born St Paul, Minnesota; school – Mounds Park Academy, University of Michigan)
Another Kenyan-America soldier, Emmanuel Bor, joins brother Hillary in the USA team for the world cross country championships

Another Kenyan-America soldier, Emmanuel Bor, joins brother Hillary in the USA team for the world cross country championships

Kipchirchir, Korir and Kebenei were part of the US team for the 2017 World Cross Country Championships held in Kampala, Uganda where they finished fifth in the senior men’s team standings, just six points shy of a medal.

Three of the Kenyans are soldiers in the US Army, where Emmanuel and Korir are Sergeants while Hillary is a Staff Sergeant. Kipchirchir is currently contracted by Nike and training with the American Distance Project under Scott Simmons in Colorado, having served four years in the US Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). Kebenei is also at ADP, having graduated from the University of Arkansas. Ferlic is a steeplechase specialist.

Nakuru County-born Stephen Kebenei running steeplechase at the Team USA 2016 Olympic Trials. He also made the world cross team

Nakuru County-born Stephen Kebenei running steeplechase at the Team USA 2016 Olympic Trials. He also made the world cross team

Athletics Kenya (AK) Youth Committee chairman Barnaba Korir, who ran in the US Collegiate circuit (NCAA), for Iowa State University, said it was a plus to have “Kenya ‘B’” line up in Aarhus “since it shows Kenyan athletics exports are making a mark for themselves in the world. Korir is the uncle of the two Bor brothers in the Team USA as well another one, Julius also a runner and in the US Army.

“It shouldn’t be a concern for us [here in team Kenya] since those are personal decisions (to change allegiance) and it shows Kenya are still a force to reckon with. We have too much talent and should always look at their change of citizenship in a positive way,” said Korir.

Barnaba Korir, ex-NCAA cross country runner for Iowa State University. He is in charge of youth development programmes in Athletics and three of his nephews -- Bor brothers Julius, Hillary and Emmanuel -- are cornerstone of the USA cross country team

Barnaba Korir, ex-NCAA cross country runner for Iowa State University. He is in charge of youth development programmes in Athletics and three of his nephews — Bor brothers Julius, Hillary and Emmanuel — are cornerstione of the USA cross country team

“We should not castigate them but instead, appreciate them like we have previously done before with sportsmen with Kenyan roots including Divock Origi (footballer- Belgium) and Chris Froome (cyclist- Great Britain).

“Having Kenyans run for other nations has never affected our position in the world of athletics and heading to Denmark, our focus should be on the Ugandans and the Ethiopians, without underrating the rest of the Kenyan-born international athletes,” Korir added.

“We need to build strong relationships with the individual athletes and their adopted countries to see how this can help Kenyan athletics now that we barely have professional training camps while running tracks in the major stadia are in deplorable state.

Another steeplechaser, Mason Ferlic of St Paul Minnesota is the world cross Team USA

Another steeplechaser, Mason Ferlic of St Paul Minnesota is the world cross Team USA

“We should also focus on making our teams stronger now that the entry of adopted Kenyans in the major championships have greatly improved competition for medals.”

Courtney Frerichs, the North American record-holder in the steeplechase, will be joined by three-time NCAA champion Karissa Schweizer, Marielle Hall, Stephanie Bruce, Anne-Marie Blaney and Sarah Pagano in the senior women’s team.

The mixed relay has Kirubel Erassa, Eleanor Fulton, Jordan Mann and Shannon Osika. The Under 20 men’s team comprises of Shuaib Aljabaly, Mieka Beaudoin-Rousseau, Robert Cheeseman, Khalid Hussein, Gabriel Mudel and Charlie Perry while the U20 women’s sextet are Nicole Clermont, Heidi Nielson, Grace Ping, Riley Rigdon, Savannah Shaw and Kayla Smith.

-From ‘The Star’ (Nairobi, Kenya)

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