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Kiptum sets target of winning Xiamen International Marathon

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Abraham Kiptum says he intends to compete at the Xiamen International Marathon in China’s southwestern province of Fujian in January.

Kiptum, who made his debut in China at the 2017 Yellow River Estuary International Marathon at Dongying, finishing seventh in 2:14:38, says he is focused on making the Kenya team for the 2019 World Championships in Qatar.

Kiptum picked up two marathon wins in 2017 in Daegu (South Korea) and Lagos (Nigeria) and also finished third in Amsterdam. The Xiamen International Marathon has a purse of 45,000 U.S. dollars for the winner.

On Sunday in Valencia, the 29-year-old set a new half marathon world record time of 58:23, slicing five seconds off the previous record set by Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese.

“I had high hopes of a good performance in Valencia. This forms part of my preparations for marathon running in Xiamen, China on January 6,” Kiptum said on Monday.

However, the Kenyan intends to focus fully on the marathon and hopefully win the attention of Kenyan selectors ahead of the World Championships in October.

“I will have a rest and then resume training. I want to compete in China and then in another race in April and see if my performances warrant selection for the Kenya team,” he added.

In Valencia, Kiptum covered the 10-20km section in 27:16 and also lowered Tadese’s world 20km record from 55:21 to 55:18 en route to the world half marathon record.

“Obviously I knew I was in good shape because I set a personal best time last month in Copenhagen but I was eager to run in Valencia because it’s one of the flattest circuits I’ve ever run and I was confident of improving on my best,” said Kiptum, who clocked 59:09 in Copenhagen last month. Ethiopians Jemal Yimer (58:33) and Abadi Hadis (58:44) finished second and third respectively.

In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka won in 66:11, just two seconds ahead of Alia Saeed Mohammed of the United Arab Emirates, who missed out on the Asian record by two seconds. Kenyans Edith Chelimo (66:18) and Pauline Korikwiang (66:31) finished third and fourth respectively.

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