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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
History beckons for Geoffrey Kamworor
ahead of third show at New York Marathon

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor will put his marathon title on the line in New York City on Nov. 4 eyeing to hit two birds with one stone, retain the gold medal and cement his spot in Kenya team to 2019 World Championships.

The 25-year-old feels a special connection with New York and is doing everything possible to become the heir apparent to the legendary marathon king and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge.

The two are training partners under coach Patrick Sang and having seen Kipchoge obliterate the world record in Berlin (2:01:39), Kamworor is keen to carve his own niche in New York.

He intends to become the first man since John Kagwe, 20 years ago, to win the New York Marathon in successive years. “To me, it is always about the next competition,” said Kamworor on Monday.

“The medals I have won have always motivated me, but after I win a medal I forget about it and aim for the next goal. In some ways it’s a bit like climbing a tree. When you climb up to the next branch you forget about the branch that you have left behind.”

Ironically, it will be the seventh marathon for Kamworor, despite making his debut in 2012 in Berlin where he clocked his personal best time of 2:06:12. The other five races he has been to Berlin (twice), Tokyo and New York (twice).

However, Kamworor’s star rose after finishing second - 14 seconds adrift of Stanley Biwott - on his New York Marathon debut in 2015.

He returned last year to add his name to the roll call of great New York Marathon champions winning in 2:10:53, his slowest mark of the six marathons he has participated in.

“Running at New York is like running at home. It is my favorite race. The course is up and down, sometimes flat. I am used to this from my cross country background. But I want something special this year, maybe a personal best time,” he added.

With a hat-trick of World Half Marathon crowns, three World Cross Country titles and he is also the reigning New York Marathon champion, Kamworor will be the athlete to beat. Compatriot and former London Marathon champ Daniel Wanjiru says Kamworor remains a threat.

“New York has big stars and it is always to focus on your own strength and use it to gain the advantage. Kamworor is a big name and he is strong,” said Wanjiru.

Kamworor credits his coach former steeplechase champion Patrick Sang for his rise and success in road racing.

“I knew Eliud (Kipchoge) was a great athlete but what I have really learned from him is the value of hard-work and discipline and how you treat yourself as an athlete,” said Kamworor.

The training group under Sang has Kipchoge, Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich, Chicago Marathon silver medalist Abel Kirui, Augustine Choge among other top names.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Karoki targets debut win against unique rivalry at Chicago marathon

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Bedan Karoki hopes he will finally break the duck and win his first marathon on Oct. 7 when he lines up at the start of this year’s Chicago marathon.

Karoki, 28, will be making his fourth attempt at the distance with his best effort having come in 2017 at the London marathon where he clinched the bronze medal on his debut in the race won by compatriot Daniel Wanjiru.

He went on to finish fourth at the Fukuoka marathon and settled for fifth spot in a star-studded London marathon this year timing at 2:08:34. But that is about to change should the tail wind continue pushing him as he debuts in America.

“It is down to what I have learnt in the three previous races. That experience is critical and I know the field in Chicago is a strong one. It is something I am used to because I have run London twice and my performance was not bad despite missing a medal this year,” said Karoki on Monday.

The Kenyan, who has pitched camp in high altitude areas of Nyahururu for the last one month since returning from his training base in Japan, feels he will be ready on Sunday to wrest the first marathon title in his career.

“I resumed training in June after a month’s break from the London race,” added Karoki. “I know top names like Mo Farah will be on parade and it inspires me to bring out the best performance. It will not be the first time am running against Farah though. I believe the real danger is in the huge Kenyan representation in the race.”

Indeed, focus will be on the defending champion Galen Rupp, who became the first American to win the Chicago Marathon title since Moroccan-born American Khalid Khannouchi in 2002. Others are Dickson Chumba (2:04:32) and Abel Kirui (2:05:04), both former champions in Chicago.

There is also world champion Geoffrey Kirui (2:06:27), who won the Boston Marathon last year, before relinquishing his title to finish second this year under windy and rainy conditions.

Upcoming marathon runners like Kenneth Kipkemoi, Paul Lonyangata, Stephen Sambu and Augustine Choge are all training their guns on winning the title too.

But Karoki who this year won the Ras Al Khaimah International Half Marathon in United Arab Emirates clocking 58:42 in February and later finished second at the Buenos Aires Half Marathon (59:50) in August believes tactics will be critical for the eventual winner as he guns for the trophy to boost his chances of selection to Kenya team to the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I need to secure a few wins to my name. I believe Chicago will be good to me and that is why I must give it my best shot,” said Karoki, who is trained by coach Francis Kamau.

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Kenyan Daniel Wanjiru recovers from injury, targets New York marathon debut

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Former London marathon champion Daniel Wanjiru has recovered from a stomach problem that forced him to drop out of the Great North run in Newcastle and will be ready to challenge for honors at the New York marathon on Nov 4.

The 26-year-old has struggled since winning the London race in 2017, but believes his worst days are over as he intensifies his training in Nakuru in preparations for the New York marathon, where he eyes his first win in U.S. soil.

“I had a stomach infection during the Great North Run in September, which denied me the chance to win the race,” said Wanjiru on Sunday in Nakuru.

“However, I’m back in training and fully focused on New York marathon in just a few weeks’ time.”

On Saturday, Wanjiru was in top form as he run over 35km with his group of training mates and believes he will increase the mileage as he approaches the November date.

Wanjiru has been a shadow of his former self this year as he failed to defend his crown in London, finishing seventh in a race that was won by Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge.

However, the 2016 Amsterdam champion believes he has what it takes to claim his maiden New York Marathon title.

“I look forward to running with the champion Geoffrey Kamworor and other world champions. I have no pressure going into the race and that is huge bonus to me,” said Wanjiru.

“I’m very happy to be part of the elite team at the New York marathon. Training is going on well and I’m getting ready to make my debut in New York,” he added.

The 26-year-old has a personal best time of 2:05:21, which he set in Amsterdam in 2016.

He was a surprise winner in London when he clocked a time of 2:05:48 for victory ahead of Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele in 2017.

However, he failed to show his best show when he returned to London for the World Marathon Championships last year, where he was eighth clocking 2:12:16.

He started the year with poor show in Houston half marathon, where he clocked 62:55 minutes in position 25.

He also ran in Netherlands over 10km. But it is the challenge he anticipates in New York that inspires him. Champion Geoffrey Kamworor will be the man to beat alongside Wanjiru.

There is also Boston Marathon bronze medalist Shadrack Biwott as well as American Bernard Lagat, who will be making his debut in the marathon.

           

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