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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Olympiad Sally Kipyego to skip New York marathon due to illness

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan Olympic silver medalist Sally Kipyego has failed to regain fitness after she took long to recover from a bout of malaria and will miss the New York marathon on Nov. 4.

Kipyego, who now runs for the USA, won silver for Kenya at the London Olympics in 2012 in the 10,000m distance.

The 2016 New York marathon silver medalist (2:28:01) had skipped the 2017 season to give birth to her first baby and was hopeful of returning to top action.

However, that plan will have to wait until she recovers her strength after the malaria bout.

“I’m devastated to announce that I will not be running the New York marathon. I had a bad case of malaria and pneumonia in the middle of my build-up that took me longer than expected to recover,” said Kipyego on Saturday.

“As much as I feel disappointed, my training will always be a great reminder of the good work I have done for months. Until next time, the work continues,” he added.

Kipyego was expected to challenge for medals against Shalane Flanagan, the 2017 winner, and 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden as well as Kenya’s Mary Keitany, who was second last year and London marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot.

With Kipyego out of the equation, Keitany will be targeting a fourth victory on return to New York City.

Keitany and her compatriot 5,000m Olympic Games champion Vivian Cheruiyot will join Flanagan and Linden of the US in a race that features 10 Olympians.

Keitany, 36, is the women’s only marathon record-holder who finished runner-up in this race last year after notching three successive titles.

In 2016, she had a dominating performance in which she surged ahead at Mile 14 to finish the course on a solo run in 2:24:26.

Her 3:34 margin of victory was the greatest in the women’s race since 1980, and she became the first able-bodied runner since Grete Waitz to win the event three years in a row.

“I was disappointed not to defend my title last year, but I was not 100 percent healthy and Shalane ran a strong race,” said Keitany, the 2012 and 2016 World Marathon Majors champion.

In April 2017, Keitany won her third London Marathon title, breaking the women’s only marathon record in a blistering time of 2:17:01.

Joining Keitany will be two Ethiopians, reigning World Half Marathon champion Netsanet Gudeta and Mamitu Daska, who finished third in New York last year.

                                  

UPDATES:

Kenyan  Ednah Mukwana targets fast time in Beirut Marathon

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The champs from China’s Zhengzhou Marathon, Ednah Mukwana and Rebecca Korir (both from Kenya) will lead the women’s field at this year’s Beirut Marathon on Nov. 11 in Lebanon.

Mukwana, 33, has a best time of 2:30:24 which she ran to take the victory at the Zhengzhou Marathon earlier this year in Central China’s Henan province, while Korir has a best of 2:29:16, which she ran to finish third at the Rotterdam Marathon in 2016.

This will be the third marathon for Mukwana in seven months. She was second at the Dalian International Marathon in China in May, where she clocked 2:32:07.

“My target is to run a faster time. I want to run under two hours and 30 minutes and I believe the Beirut course will be good enough to offer me that time. There are also top names in the race, who I expect to push me through,” Mukwana said on Friday in Nairobi.

Another elite who will be in contention is Lithuania’s Raza Drazdauskaite, a three-time Olympian who clocked 2:29:29 to finish 26th at the London Games in 2012.

Belarus’s Sviatlana Kudzelich comes in with impressive form at the shorter distances.

The 31-year-old was a European indoor silver medalist over 3,000m in 2015 and earlier this year she set her half marathon personal best of 1:11:45 in Prague.

Ethiopia will have a trio of strong contenders in the form of Almensh Herpha, Medina Deme Armino and Nigist Muluneh Desta.

Herpa took victory at the Lagos City Marathon on her most recent outing over this distance, while the Ethiopian has had a previous run of good form at the BLOM Bank Beirut Marathon, finishing third in 2016.

The men’s field has former Boston marathon champion Wesley Korir returning to competition after two years. Wesley, a politician, is keen to regain his fitness and contest in the marathon distance ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

“Everything is going well, I’m trying to get in shape after politics and run full-time again,” said Korir on Friday in Nairobi. “Getting a win in Beirut will be a boost for me as I get back to the top level.”

Korir will face strong opposition from teammates Ezekiel Omullo and Ben Kimutai and Houston Marathon winner Bazu Worku from Ethiopia.

This year’s event will also incorporate the 50th World Military Marathon Championship, which will feature 98 runners from almost 20 countries.

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Champion Felix Kirwa pulls out of Eindhoven Marathon

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Former Singapore Marathon champion Felix Kirwa has withdrawn from this week’s Eindhoven Marathon, which will be held in Netherlands on Sunday.

Kirwa, 24, said he has not gotten back into form after an injury derailed his training.

However, he expects to return to action soon and continue his push for a slot in the Kenyan delegation to the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in Oct 2019 and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I have high hopes I will be back in action and improve on my time to be able to put up my name for selection for the Kenyan team,” Kirwa said.

Kirwa, a former winner of China’s Tianjin Marathon, came second in last year’s race in Eindhoven, finishing in 2:06:13.

He is the younger brother to Olympic marathon silver medalist Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa, a Bahrain citizen since 2013. Another runner who has also pulled out is Ethiopia’s Deribe Robi.

Despite their late withdrawals, Race Director Marc Corstjens believes they have top elite runners who can break the two hours and six minutes mark.

“Since 2014, winners of the Eindhoven marathon managed to complete the course within an average time of 2:06:26. But only if all conditions like the weather, are excellent. However, their finishing times ensure Eindhoven’s marathon is among the ten fastest marathons in the world,” Corstjens said.

Ethiopia’s Belay Asefa is the quickest of the field with his 2:07:10 from 2014.

However, Kenya’s Elisha Rotich has shown the most recent form with his 2:07:50 for fourth in Daegu this year.

Jacob Cheshari, who has run 2:07:46, is the other 2:07 runners in the field. Another Kenyan Vincent Rono will also be a threat as 2017 Lille Half winner in 59:27 and seventh in the World Cross in the same year.

Geoffrey Yegon is another sub-60 runner in the lineup. Ethiopia’s Belay Tilahun, who has clocked 61:51 for the half, is the outsider. Top names in the women’s race are still to be announced.

           

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