NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
World half marathon record-holder Joyciline
Jepkosgei will be available to represent Kenya at the African
athletics championships in Nigeria in August.
suffered the residual effects of a bout of flu to finish fifth
(1:06:46) at the Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates in
February, says she is back in top form and hopes she will
compete in the 10km road race before heading to Assela, Nigeria
for the continent’s premier track and field competition.
“It is always hard
to make Kenya team and that is why I have started my
preparations early. Nobody respects the records you may have
because everyone is hungry to win and Kenya has many upcoming
athletes so I do not want to be surprised,” she said on Saturday
in Mumias, Western Kenya.
Jepkosgei holds the
world half marathon record at 1:04:51 and was relieved when
compatriot Fancy Chemutai missed it by one second in Ras al-Khaimah.
But she knows it is
a matter of time before the mark is smashed and she wants to
have the chance to defend it. But for now, running at the
African championships is her main focus.
“This is my first
track competition of the year,” said Jepkosgei after competing
at the national athletics championships series in Mumias.
“I want to prepare
well for the August African championships in Nigeria. I shall
compete in the 10,000m, but first I shall focus on the June 20,
Kenya Defense Forces championships so that I can book my
ticket,” said Jepkosgei, who won the 5,000m at the Kenyan Army
Championships in 16:28.7.
Kenya dominated the
middle and long distances at the last African athletics
championships in Durban, South Africa, winning 24 medals—eight
golds, eight silvers and eight bronzes—to finish second behind
the host country who had a total of 32 medals. Nigeria was third
with 16 medals.
Chelimo, who this month became the fourth fastest marathoner in
history at the Run Czech Prague Half, says the responsibility of
motherhood has led to her six-minute improvement. The Kenyan
clocked 65:04 earlier this month.
“I was just running
and not focused. I feel (now) like I have more responsibility
and I’m really focused. I want my baby to be okay and it gives
me motivation that I have a baby.
“When the pace is
too hard I think about my baby and people who have been
supporting me, so I think that’s one of the reasons I am running
faster. I know I have responsibility and someone is looking up
for me,” added Chelimo.