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Champion Florence Kiplagat focuses on London
win to secure place in Kenya marathon team

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Winning the London marathon and making it to the Kenya team for the World Championships in August is more inspiring to Chicago marathon champion Florence Kiplagat than setting another half marathon record.

Kiplagat, who turns 30 in a week’s time, has come close to making the Kenya marathon team twice, being named on the reserve lists. But with the London World Championships the next big thing up her sleeve, the Barcelona half marathon champion is keen to end this jinx in August.

“I was unlucky last year missing out to Rio Olympics despite doing well at the London marathon. It is good they are making it a trial race again this time round and hopefully, I will win there and focus on the World Championships,”  she said Tuesday from Eldoret.

There was no world record for Kiplagat despite winning the Barcelona half marathon for the fourth season in succession last week in 68:15 ahead of Ethiopia’ s Kuma Dibaba (69:49) and Portugal’s Jessica Augusto (70:36).

“Records are there to be broken. I’m now happy for her (Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir) and we’ll try to regain the record in the future,” said Kiplagat on losing her record to Jepchirchir on Friday.

Leonard Langat won the men’s race in 60:52 from Meshak Koech (60:54) and Joel Kimurer (60:59) while Abel Kirui rounded out the all-Kenyan top four in 61:30.

Kiplagat’s first completed marathon was at Berlin in 2011, which was a sensational success. After passing halfway in 1:10:11 she ran a negative split to win in 2:19:44.

In 2010, April in Boston, she ran 1:11:42 at 21.1km and 1:42:59 at 30km, but did not finish. She returned to Berlin in 2013 and won again. In February 2014 at Barcelona Kiplagat set a half marathon world record of 1:05:12 which she lowered to 1:05:09 in 2015.

In 2015 she won the Chicago marathon and defended that title in October last year. However, in April, she cruised to third spot at the London marathon, which was not good enough to secure her a place in the Kenya team to the Rio Olympics.

But her strong run in Barcelona last week to try and improve on her best half marathon record was a flop as she finished almost three minutes off her previous mark.

Now Kiplagat has confirmed she might try and regain her world half marathon record later but for now her focus is to recover and up her game at the London marathon hoping to be third time lucky and claim the victory.

Kenya is using the event as a trial for the London World Championships and Kiplagat is hopeful she will improve on her third place finish last year against a spirited challenge from compatriot Mary Keitany, winner in New York, Jemimah Sumgong the Olympic and London marathon defending champion, Tokyo marathon champion and 2015 world silver medallist Helah Kiprop and the Olympic 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot, who will make her marathon debut at the age of 33.

“It is not about who will be running in alongside me, it is about what strength I have to win the race. I always race against top athletes and it is the inner strength to go the extra mile that counts,” she said.



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