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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Kenyan marathoner Cherono to challenge Bekele in Amsterdam

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Amsterdam marathon champion Lawrence Cherono of Kenya on Wednesday vowed to retain his title and improve the course record in the Dutch city on Oct. 21.

Speaking in Eldoret, Cherono who holds the current course record of 2.05.09 from last year’s win, said he is in better shape to try to break the two hours and four minute mark. 

“It will be my fourth time. It is my dream for my career because I was there in 2011 where I got a personal best. I returned there and did well and now I want to improve my best time and win the race against the strong international challenge,” Cherono told Xinhua.

The elite field in Amsterdam Marathon will be the strongest ever assembled led by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:03.03), Mule Wasihun, who holds a fast time of 2:05:39, Kenyans Gideon Kipketer (2:05:51) and Laban Korir (2:05:54).

Former Kenyan-turned Turkish Kaan Ozbilen Kigen (2:06:10), a silver medalist from the European Championships half-marathon will also be present.

“It is always a dream to run in Amsterdam. If that dream dies, it will be like a bird that can’t fly. I have a lot of hope to improve against a stronger field assembled this time round. I am excited to run against Bekele. He was my role model and I look forward to meet him.

“I used to see him run against Olympic Champion Eliud Kipchoge or in the IAAF Golden League. Today I train with Kipchoge and am excited to run against Bekele and target a faster race. Kipchoge has taught me to always remain focused and determined. Run with your mind, the race is won in the mind, always be strong in the mind,” added Cherono.

Alongside Bekele and Cherono, Ethiopian Mule holds the sway on who will carry the day. Mule is gradually establishing himself in the upper echelons of global marathon running.

In 2017 he placed second in the Dubai Marathon clocking 2:06:46 before trimming five seconds from his marathon best time to 2:05:39 for fourth in Amsterdam.

Kenya’s Gideon Kipketer represents the next generation of marathon stars.

His rising status in global marathon running was further cemented earlier this year as he dismantled his previous best time by more than two minutes to record 2:05:51 finishing second at the Tokyo Marathon behind former world record holder Wilson Kipsang.

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EARLIER REPORT:

First ever refugee marathon set for Kenya’s Nairobi

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan athletics legends Rose Tata-Muya and peace ambassador Tegla Loroupe are among the high-profile personalities who will grace the inaugural Refugees Marathon to be held here on Saturday.

Event organizers Bahati Ghislain and Jean Pierre Ngirabahire confirmed on Tuesday that everything is set for the first ever event for refugees in Kenya, saying the aim of the event is to celebrate the Kenyan government and the people of Kenya for their hospitality.

“If not for the warmth and nature of Kenyans we would never have known peace,” said Ghislain, 24, who moved to Kenya 10 years ago from Democratic Republic of Congo after losing all his family members.

“This country has made me everything I am because they allowed me to feel human again. When I came here I met people who took me as their own and I have every reason to say good things about Kenya,” Ghislain said.

Ngirabahire said they would use the event to donate blood to the national blood bank, but are still working on the modalities of partnering with the national blood transfusion center.

“We have really thought about how or what we can do to show our gratitude to the people of Kenya and we thought this would be a good way of saying thank you,” he explained.

“This is about celebrating Kenyans who have allowed us to live amongst them like brothers and sisters. We also want to raise awareness on the plight of refugees and what it means to be one because of what we went through but Kenya has made us feel human again,” Ngirabahire said.

The event will bring together refugees from different nationalities who are currently residing in Kenya, mainly from DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Other than the 10 km run and the 4km fun run, the day’s program will also feature entertainment by different choirs and artistes, blood donation as well as sensitization on different issues affecting refugees.

Loroupe, a UN peace ambassador, said the event is a major talent identification pool for her refugee athletes program, having advocated for stateless athletes to take part in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

“They go through a lot and it’s very painful that talented youth can’t exploit their gift because of problems they have no control of,” she said.

“It is a good event and I always want to support such ideas because they are the ones that advance the cause I have always championed,” she said.

Over 3,000 refugees will take part in the event out of the more than 70,000 refugees who live in Nairobi.

           

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