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Kenya's Paralympic athletes take part in a demonstration along Thika Supper Highway in Nairobi | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Paralympic athletes take part in a demonstration along Thika Super Highway in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. Kenyan athletes returning home from international competition staged a sit-in and blocked busy roads in Nairobi on Thursday to demand payment of their stipends and allowances. XINHUA PHOTO - CHARLES ONYANGO

Elite runners skip Kenya marathon team for lack of incentives

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Lack of governmental incentives and rewards to elite runners is to blame for the loss of interest by Kenya’s best crop of marathoners to compete at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in October.

Paul Mutwii, the Athletics Kenya (AK) senior vice president, expressed his concern on Tuesday as top runners turned down the chance to contest in Doha opting to meet their contractual obligation with big city marathon organizers.

"Our selection was initially based on merit.

"However, we had to make adjustments based on the availability of the athletes.

"Many of our top athletes decided not to honor the invitation.

"The team will report to camp in early July in Kaptagat," said Mutwii.

Elite runners competing in Chicago, Berlin, New York and other big cities, sign up to 100,000 U.S. dollars in appearance fees alongside the prize pack offered to the winners.

Instead to compete at the World Championships, could only result in a reward of 20,000 dollars as prize bonus.

Besides, Kenya government has declined to pay medallists as far back as the 2012 Olympic Games.

"There are athletes, who listen only to their managers something we are not happy about.

"Representing one’s nation is more important," said Mutwii.

Among those who have given the World Championships a bye include Olympic champions Eliud Kipchoge, Vivian Cheruiyot, Berlin champion Gladys Cherono, London winner Brigid Kosgei, New York winner Mary Keitany, Tokyo champion Stanley Biwott.

However, Kenya still has a big reservoir of talent to draw from and have named defending champions Edna Kiplagat and Geoffrey Kirui to anchor the 10-member team.

"I feel honored once again to be picked to led the assault," said the 26-year-old Kirui, a former Boston marathon champion. In April, he finished fifth in Boston citing a foot injury.

He will team up with Paris champion Paul Lonyangata, Amos Kipruto, who finished fourth at last Sunday’s Prague Marathon, Laban Korir and Ernest Ngeno.

"That team by all standards is a strong one.

"It has champions and we will do well in Qatar," said Kirui.

Two-time world marathon champion Kiplagat will lead the women’s assault in her fifth attempt at the global stage.

She has Ruth Chepng’etich, who ran the third fastest in women’s marathon history winning Dubai in 2:17:08 on January 25.

Others are former Paris marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho and Sally Chepyego.


Geoffrey Kirui and Edna Kiplagat will lead Kenya marathon team for Doha worlds

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Defending champion Geoffrey Kirui and two-time champion Edna Kiplagat will lead Kenya’s marathon team to the World Championships slated for September 28-October 6 in Doha, Qatar.

Kiplagat tried to become the first woman to win back-to-back world titles in 2013, but failed to live her dream of winning three titles at both the Beijing 2015 and London 2017 championships.

Kiplagat, now 39, finished fifth in Beijing as defending champion and was second in London losing to Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo.

"I still have a dream to win a third marathon title at the World Championships," said Kiplagat on Monday.

"It will go down well with my record in dominating the world championships."

Kiplagat, will now be back again in her fifth attempt in Doha targeting to win a third world marathon title, which would be unprecedented for women.

Should Kiplagat be successful, she will get at par with legendary Catherine Ndereba, Manuela Machado and Lidia Simon as the only three-time marathon medalists at the World Championships.

Athletics Kenya senior vice president, Paul Mutwii, said the team will start training in July in Eldoret under coaches Joseph Cheromei and Richard Kimetto.

"We picked the team on availability after many of our top athletes decided not to honour the invitation," said Mutwii.

So far, Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, Vivian Cheruiyot, London winner Brigit Kosgei, Berlin champ Gladys Cherono, former Tokyo winner Stanley Biwott all have declined to represent the country in Doha, for a race that will be held at midnight to limit the damage on the athletes over high temperatures during the day.

In the men’s race, defending champion Geoffrey Kirui has been given a nod despite his poor run since winning in Boston in 2017 and going on to win in London World Championships.

Kirui struggled with the best performance coming in 2018 in Boston where he was second clocking a slow time of 2:18:23 owing to the torrid rainy, windy and wet weather.

The men’s team has Amos Kipruto, who finished second in Berlin Marathon last year and the 2018 Paris Marathon champion Paul Lonyangata.

Besides Kiplagat who won the title in 2011 and 2013 before settling for silver in 2017 London, the women’s team has Dubai Marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich.




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