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Half marathon record holder Jepkosgei eyes
conquest at African athletics championships

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- World half marathon record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei will be available  to represent Kenya at the African athletics championships in Nigeria in August.

Jepkosgei, who 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.

Meanwhile, Melly 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.



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