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Kenyan Wilson Kipsang eyes world record at Berlin marathon

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang has warned his rivals it will be a race for his life as he seeks to reclaim the world record at the Berlin marathon on Sept. 24.

The former Olympic bronze medalists, 35, was overlooked in Kenya’s selection for the London World Championships and has now confirmed he will join Olympic Champion Eliud Kipchoge in the Berlin Marathon next month.

“The world marathon record must fall in September this year. I will be running in the race and my focus will be on setting a new mark. This year, I only participated in few races and after I missed out on the squad to London, I focused my energy on making an impact in Berlin,” he said.

Kipsang has run under 2:05:00 six times. “My training has been good and I have finalized the hard training. I’m ready to face the other competitors and my focus will be to run my personal best and even break the world record,” said Kipsang.

Kipsang who won the 2013 Berlin Marathon in 2:03:23, besting countryman Patrick Makau’s world record of 2:03:38, which was also set in Berlin.

Next to claim the title was Denis Kimetto of Kenya who became the first man to run a sub-2:03 marathon with an eye popping 2:02:57

Berlin has had a stranglehold on the men’ s marathon world record for the past 13 years. It’s been lowered six times in Berlin-and nowhere else-since Paul Tergat ran a then-record 2:04:55 there in 2003. The women’s marathon world record was twice broken in Berlin (in 1999 and 2001).

Kipchoge, who missed narrow to become the first man to run under two hours in Monza Italy in May will attack the world marathon record of 2:02:57 set by compatriot Dennis Kimetto in Berlin.

“I was very close to breaking the 2 hour barrier in Monza. Now I believe Berlin is the perfect venue for attacking the official world record,” said Kipchoge.

Kipchoge is currently the best marathon runner in the world. He is only the second Kenyan man to win Olympic gold after the late Sammy Wanjiru, who triumphed in Beijing in 2008.

Kipchoge has ran the second fastest marathon in history with a course record 2:03:05 at the 2016 London Marathon. Kipchoge is also the first man to win four consecutive marathon major races in a row.

In his first eight marathons, his only loss came when he was second behind Wilson Kipsang’s world record at the 2013 Berlin marathon.

The Kenyan knows all about the Berlin course after he won in 2015, running 2:00;00 despite the insoles of his running shoes flapping for much of the race.

Two years previously he finished second in Berlin with another impressive time, 2:04:05 while his compatriot Wilson Kipsang broke the world record with 2:03:23. Kipchoge’s personal best is 2:03:05, set when he won London in 2016.



Kenya’s javelin star Yego up for challenge at Monaco Diamond League meeting

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s javelin world champion and Olympic silver medalist Julius Yego said Thursday that his performance has improved as he heads to Monaco for the Diamond League meeting on Friday.

Yego has had a poor season ever since he returned from Rio Olympics with an ankle injury and has had to contend with bad throws in the last three events he has competed in this season.

But ahead of the Monaco meeting, Yego hopes to reassert his authority in his discipline and reclaim lost ground.

“It is about how my body feels. There has been good response since I started training. But I have to be careful and that is why I take one day at a time. Monaco will be another step for me and hopefully, I will do well,” he said.

The men’s javelin could be a telling event given the presence of the two Germans who have seized the event by its neck in the space of the past year.

Olympic champion Thomas Rohler has been consistently in 90-metre territory this season, having opened with 93.90m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha.

But his place behind Jan Zelezny on the world all-time list was taken by compatriot Johannes Vetter, who produced four 90-metre throws on a single night in Lucerne on July 11, the best of them being 94.44m.

Also in the field are Yego, and 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch, who has a best of 88.02m this season.

In the 800m race, Olympic and world champion Caster Semenya has been unbeatable this season, but the Monaco field includes all those most likely to challenge her, including the Olympic silver and bronze medallists, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, as well as Canada’s world silver medallist Melissa Bishop and the U.S. pair of 2013 world silver medallist Brenda Martinez and US champion Ajee Wilson.

Another significant race for Africa will be the women’s 3000m, which brings together Kenya’s Olympic 5000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri, Ethiopia’s Olympic and World 10,000m record holder Almaz Ayana and Britain’ s European indoor 1500m and 3000m champion Laura Muir, 12 days after their rousing contest over the mile in London which saw Obiri set a national record of 4:16.56 and Muir register a personal best of 4:18.03.

It will be Ayana’s first competition this year after injury. Ayana will run against Obiri in the shorter 3000 metres alongside Laura Muir and Shannon Rowbury. However, the race will miss the sparks of Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba.

Kenya’s Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto faces a field that includes Olympic silver medallist Evan Jager of the United States and his two leading Kenyan rivals, Jairus Birech and 35-year-old double Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi. 

But Kipruto’s biggest challenge may be the ankle problem that caused him to drop out early from the race in Rabat last week.

Olympic 1,500m champion Matt Centrowitz will have a rigorous test against top Kenyans including Timothy Cheruiyot, 21, who leads this season’ s world list with 3:30.77, and Ronald Kwemoi, second in the world this year with a 3:30.89 at altitude.   

Also lurking in the field with something to prove is Kenya’s three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop.


Kenya needs to commit more resources on field events

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A senior official at Athletics Kenya (AK) said Wednesday the country should commit more resources in field events if the country hopes to increase its medal haul in the sport at the international arena.

Barnaba Korir, who is in charge of youth development at the national organization, told Xinhua in Nairobi that it is time the country stopped relying on the traditional long and middle distance races and diversified to other events.

“The country does not invest anything on Kenyan runners of middle and long distance events because of the mistaken belief that they are naturally talented. But that does not mean that it should also do the same for field events,” Korir said.

“The seriousness of a nation in matters pertaining to sports is adjudged by how much capital it commits in developing its young generation. My plea for money to be channeled towards field events for the youth fell on deaf ears and now the results are there for all to see,” he said.

Korir, who was the team manager of the Kenyan team during the recently-concluded World Under 18 Athletics Championships that was held in Nairobi, said the country lacked runners in pole vault, high jump, shot put and discus because there are no coaches for the events.

“As much as we call ourselves a sporting nation, we lack such basic facilities like landing gear for pole vault and high jump,” he lamented.

“Our high jumpers clear the bar using the scissor kick instead of the back flip. How does one expect them to employ the latter style and land on a sand pit with their backs, hence the old-fashioned way,” Korir said.

The former long distance runner debunked the myth that Kenyan runners win races because of natural talent.

“Talent is an inborn quality that will only carry one so far, but it is futile unless you go for it. Kenyan runners work hard because hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard,” he said philosophically, adding that that is reason enough for Kenyans to work hard in field events.



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