by John Kwoba
NAIROBI, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- It is not everyday that you will find sibling battling each other in professional sports. But again, competition between brothers or sisters sometimes does not augur well for team cohesion.
The national cross country squad in Embu, however, is seeking to use the sibling rivalry to the advantage of the squad that is heading for Bydgoszcz, Poland for the World Cross Country Championships on March 24.
World Cross Country junior women champion Faith Chepng'etich was an early accomplishment and has curved a niche for herself in track and field, however her elder sister Beatrice Chepkemwoi is making her debut in the Kenya team, albeit in the senior cadre.
"I have new inspiration to help my sister. We both want to take medals home and my parents have told us to bring home medals. It will not be easy, but it feels good to have my sister with me in camp," said Chepng'etich, Tuesday in Embu.
They are not the only ones related in the Kenya cross country team camp. Former World junior cross country champion Mercy Cherono and her sister Caroline Chepkoech, winner at the Africa Cross country championships in Cape Town in 2011 will also be teaming up in the senior women's 8km race.
However, they are not the first to represent Kenya as a pair. Back in 2008 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Kenya had both then Africa champions in 5,000m and 10,000m Mathew Kisorio Some and his younger brother, Peter Kimeli Some.
Both are sons to legendary Some Muge, the first Kenyan to win a bronze medal at the World Cross Country Championships back in 1983 in Madrid, Spain. Kisorio and Kimeli were in the junior men's 8km team and targeted gold and silver, but only Kisorio could get bronze.
The duo however, is a stark contrast, save for their resemblance. The more talkative Kisorio said then that his younger brother is getting too close to him for comfort, and he is watchful lest he is overtaken.
Fast track to today, Kimeli has eclipsed Kisorio. He has won several road races in Europe, but his elder brother is serving a two-year ban after he was caught doping.
But for the challenge in Bydgoszcz, the sister sibling marks the first for the weaker sex to represent the country.
Chepng'etich, who is also the World Junior 1,500m champion, leads women's charges in bid to reclaim team title Kenya lost Punta Umbria, Spain in 2011 to perennial opponents Ethiopia.
At just 18 years, Chepng'etich seems to have been around for longer. She was to make her debut in 2009 in Amman, Jordan during the 37 edition of the World Cross Country Championships. However, the coaches dropped her because of her younger age (15).
She cried but got the consolation of new training kit from the head coach Julius Kirwa and the remaining has been a tale for the senior athletes as she has curved a niche in the sport winning at all levels of competition she has been involved in -- World Junior, World Youth, Africa and regional level.
But this year's race in Poland gives her a new inspiration because, though she is younger, her parents wants her to guide elder sister through the steps and see that they return to Nairobi with medals on March 26.
"I want to add another jewel on my track and cross-country collections and will be returning to the Polish City, where I finished fourth running barefoot in 2010," said Chepng'etich.
Chepng'etich, the Form Two Student at Winner's Girls High School in Keringet, was among young athletes feted at the centenary celebrations of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in Barcelona, Spain, last year.
"This will be my last world cross country. The next in China in 2015, I will have graduated to the senior cadre. Therefore it is important to bow out on a winning note and I believe am ready for just that in Poland," she added.
Caroline Chepkoech and Mercy Cherono are also jostling for the lucrative US Dollars 30,000 that is at stake for the winner in Bydgoszcz.
Together with another US Dollars 30,000 for team title should Kenya rule the roost, the pair will be heading home with enough to take up any project of their choice.
Unlike Faith, who is guiding her elder sister, younger Chepkoech wants to fit into her elder sister's (Mercy Cherono) shoes and make her name on her debut at the world cross-country championships.
Cherono, who is in the senior team, won the world cross-country junior title in Bydgoszcz in 2010. She missed out at the 2011 edition in Punta Umbria, the same year her younger sister announced her arrival at the international stage winning the Africa Championships.
"This is a serious championships, there will be stars from all over the world. I triumphed at the Africa level but the world stage is different. I only pray to God to guide me," said Chepkoech.
The Form Two Student at Ngariet Secondary School in Sotik added: "I have performed well at the Africa cross-country and I hope to extend it to world cross-country, where my sister (Mercy Cherono) won gold medal. The winter weather conditions are not a challenge to me."
Chepkoech, is the Africa junior 5,000m champion, will be keen to rectify mistakes that made her lose the 3,000m title at the World Youth Championships in Lille, France, in 2011. "I have now picked up enough experience and we only need team work to reclaim the team title," said Chepkoech.
They will join forces with world junior 5,000m bronze medallist Agnes Chebet, World Youth 1,500m finalist Sheila Chepng'etich, Roseline Chepng'etich, world junior 3,000m champion Mercy Chebwogen, Emily Chebet and winner in Bydgoszcz in 2010.