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Edward Zakayo Pingua [left] of Kenya celebrates after the men's 5000m | Coastweek

RABAT Morocco (Xinhua) -- Edward Zakayo Pingua [left] of Kenya celebrates after the men's 5000m at 2019 IAAF Diamond League in Rabat, capital of Morocco. Edward Zakayo Pingua won the 1st place with 13:11.49. Nelly Jepkosgei [right] of Kenya celebrates after the women's 800m at 2019 IAAF Diamond League in Rabat. Nelly Jepkosgei won the 1st place with 1:59.50. XINHUA PHOTOS - CHADI


Africa Youth Games winner Maria Brunlenher leading
Kenya team to the World Swimming Championships

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Africa Youth Games champion Maria Brunlenher and Danilo Rosafio will lead the Kenya team to this year’s World Swimming Championships to be held from July 12-28 in Gwangju, South Korea.
Brunlenher claimed two gold medals at the 2018 Youth Africa Games and Rosafio, will have Danilo Rosafio, Emily Muteti and Isa Abdalla accompanying her to South Korea for the week-long event.

"I hope it will help me improve my personal times and get to the respective finals of their races," said Abdalla in Nairobi on Sunday.

"We have to focus on the Tokyo Olympics and
will select our best talent" -
Fakry Mansoor

Brunlehner is based in Germany while Muteti is in the United States.

Head coach Fakry Mansoor will be assisted by Steve Schaefer and Todd Price.

Mansoor hopes Kenya swimmers will learn more from the trip.

"We have to focus on the Tokyo Olympics and willselect best talent".

The World Championships may be the first for some, but it is a good opportunity for them to learn and improve their times," said Mansoor.


Africa Youth Games champion Maria Brunlenher | Coastweek


Africa Youth Games champion Maria Brunlenher. PHOTO - FACEBOOK



Kenyan athletes dominate Kigali International Peace Marathon

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Kenyan contestants on Sunday swept the multi-category Kigali International Peace Marathon held in the Rwandan capital. Rwanda and Uganda also grabbed medals.

Uganda’s Philip Kiplimo won the gold medal in the full marathon completing the race in two hours, 20 minutes and 21 seconds. Kenya’s James Tallam and Reuben Kemboi won the silver and bronze medals respectively.

It was a full clean sweep for Kenya in the men’s half marathon, as Shadrack Kiminine won the gold medal in one hour, four minutes and 36 seconds and Sane Mathew and Chemjor Festus won the silver and bronze medals.

In the women’s category of the half marathon race, Kenya’s Celestine Chepchirchil won the gold medal in one hour, 14 minutes and 44 seconds. Marthe Yankurije from Rwanda won the second place, while another Kenyan Martha Akeno came third.

The 15th edition of the Kigali International Peace Marathon attracted about 3,900 participants, including professionals and amateurs from 55 countries.

In addition to the half and full marathon races, the competition has a "Run for Peace" 10-kilometer race that is open to all.

Started in 2004 as an amateur race to use sports in the healing and reconciliation process in the aftermath of 1994’s Rwandan Genocide, the event has grown to become one of the most respected annual athletics events on the continent and a significant part of the Rwandan sporting calender.

Rwanda coach Bitok seeks new challenge,
eyes to guide Kenya in Olympic qualifiers

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Rwandan volleyball head coach Paul Bitok has declined to extend his tenure with the East Africa country and will return home in Nairobi on June 30 after a decade stay in Kigali.

Speaking on Friday, Bitok said talks with Rwanda ministry of sports had broken down and he would not look to extend his contract.

Instead, Bitok has sounded out Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) to consider him for any available spot in the national team.

The 45-year-old has been credited for assisting the development of volleyball in the east African country since his appointment in 2010.

"After over ten years in foreign land, I won’t be able to extend the contract as agreed with the Rwanda ministry of Sport.

"However, I will hold brief until end of the month to facilitate the smooth transition and hand over the task to a new team that will be recruited.

"There are also a few competitions the Rwandan national teams are engaged in coming up this month and early July, which I will oversee," said Bitok on Friday in Nairobi.

Bitok may now be named in Kenya’s technical bench as the national women’s team prepare to compete at the Intercontinental Olympic qualifying tournament in August in Italy.

Kenya will face Italy, who finished second at the World Championships, the Netherlands and Belgium in the qualifiers, which will be played in Italy from Aug. 2 to 4.

Bitok was disappointed his Rwanda men’s team failed to secure Zone Five Africa Games qualification, which were held in Nairobi last week with Egypt claiming the single ticket from the region.

The Africa Games will be held in Rabat, Morocco from Aug. 19-31.

Rwanda men’s and women’s teams will be taking part in the beach volleyball World Championship in Germany later this month, as well as the Girl’s World Cup in Mexico in July and the women’s team in African Games in August in Morocco.

"After consulting my family and friendly I have made up my mind, but I will be available for consultation but for now am going back home.

"I am proud of my players because Rwanda is the only country that qualified two teams for the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship 2019," said Bitok.

"I’m proud of my two teams for making history in Rwanda."

Pressure on Kenya athletes mounts as Uganda,
Ethiopia eye stake in Africa Games

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s athletics head coach Julius Kirwa says the country is under excess pressure to firm their grip and dominance over the Africa Games, which starts in Rabat, Morocco from August 23 to September 3.

Kenya secured five gold, nine silver and six bronze in the 2015 Africa Games held in Brazzaville, Congo. Among the gold medalists were Clement Kemboi (3,000m steeplechase), Margaret Chelimo (5,000m), Alice Aprot (10,000m), Grace Wanjiru (20km race walk) who all intend to defend their titles in Rabat.

But the emergence of Uganda, host Morocco, Ethiopia and Nigeria has left coach Kirwa itchy as they encroach on Kenya’s turf that is the middle and long distance races.

"It gets tough each year. But we have our own challenge because some of our athletes are not keen to compete in Rabat," said Kirwa on Sunday.

"We have to parade the best and we will do everything possible in training to make sure we have a strong team."

Athletics Kenya will select at least 65 athletes to represent the country in the track and field events, the biggest out of the whole contingent.

Kirwa will focus specifically on the middle and long distance races, the golden goose of Kenyan athletics. Stephen Mwaniki, who led Kenya to the 2018 Africa Athletics Championships and this year’s World Relays Championships, will handle sprints while national shot put record holder Elizabeth Olaba will oversee field events.

AK senior vice president Paul Mutwii said that the team has three days to come up with the criteria for selection for athletes and officials during training camps and competitions ahead of the Games.

Kenya’s training camp for the Africa Games will start on July 28 in Nairobi.

Jeruto stuns rival Chepkoech in Oslo Diamond League steeplechase

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Former Africa steeplechase champion Norah Jeruto has warned her rivals to ignore her at their own peril ahead of this year’s World Championships in October.

The 24-year-old former World Junior champion produced the biggest upset at the Oslo Diamond League on Thursday. Producing a meeting record and world lead of 9:03.71, Jeruto ending world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech’s unbeaten streak at seven.

"I have not endured a good career since I graduated to the senior ranks.

"But I am seeking to recapture my lost form and take the challenge to my rivals.

"This year, the focus is first to make the cut in the Kenya team.

"There are many athletes coming up and making the team to the World Championships is the first priority.

"But I also want to dominate the Diamond League," she said on Friday.

Kenya is seeking to recapture the gold medal in the steeplechase after Hyvin Kiyeng lost out to American Emma Coburn in London in 2017.

World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech was a disappointing fourth and like Jeruto says she is keen to win a global title and is happy to shelve her plans for a fast time to focus on just that.

Chepkoech, whose last loss came in Rome more than a year ago, is however not taking her loss in Oslo on a chin.

She says it was good to keep her on her toes and hopes the competition will drive her to improve.

In Norway she took command 1,300 metres into the race, with Jeruto shadowing closely.

As the laps wore on, the order didn’t change, with Jeruto running confidently, seemingly waiting for the right moment to make her move.

That came in the final 100 meters.

As she was passed, Chepkoech didn’t even try to respond, content with her eventual 9:04.30 seasons best.

In a quality race, Kiyeng was third in 9:07.56 with world champion Emma Coburn fourth in 9:08.42.

"There will be another race to amend the anomaly. My focus was on Coburn and I forget that my countrywomen are equally as tough.

"But I will be back at the Prefontaine for a fast run and see if I can win it," said Chepkoech.

The Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon in the United States will be on June 30 and Chepkoech will renew her rivalry with Jeruto, Coburn and Cellephine Cherono in what is dubbed the biggest rivalry in steeplechase race.

Olympic champion Kipyegon to skip Africa Games, eyes World Championships

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon said Thursday she would skip this year’s African Games, which will be held in Rabat, Morocco in August.

Kipyegon joins world 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi who has also asked to be excluded from the continental mini Olympics in order to focus on defending his title at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar from Sept. 28 to Oct. 6.

The 26-year-old said the Games, which will have athletes from all the 54 African countries, have come too soon for her as she intensifies her comeback from motherhood and will be good to test herself at the World Championships.

Kipyegon will lead Kenya’s entourage at this year’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugen, Oregon on June 30, which will be the seventh stop in the Diamond League.

"It will be my first race in over two years and I have no specific expectations other than just to have a good race and avoid injury. I need to get that competitive nature back in me," Kipyegon said.

Kipyegon, who returned to training two months ago, had earlier said she intends to defend her Olympic title in Tokyo in 2020 and will only use competition in 2019 to gauge her body and shake off the rust having skipped competition since September 2017.

"I don’t want to put myself under pressure with targets because I am not sure what to accept as good performance.

"I always want to win, but I must be realistic.

"The most important thing is for me to remain firmly focused in making it to Doha for the World Championships," added Kipyegon.

"I am open to criticism and challenges that will come my way. I might take part in other races which I am yet to decide.

"However, it is important I clear this hurdle and win the war in my mind that am back in active competition," she said.

Olympic marathon silver medalist Kirwa banned for four years for doping

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa, who won marathon silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016, has been suspended for four years for doping.

According to Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), Kirwa, who resides in Kapsabet town, Kenya, had her blood sample turn positive for prohibited blood-booster EPO. Her four-year suspension is backdated to May 7.

"The Athletics Integrity Unit has issued a decision against Bahraini long-distance runner Eunice Kirwa for a violation of the anti-doping rules," the AIU said in a statement on Monday.

So far, the top two women, who won gold and silver from Rio Olympics marathon have both failed anti-doping test.

Kenya’s Jemima Sumgong was banned in January for attempting to hinder an investigation into her use of EPO by supplying false documents.

Kirwa, who also won world bronze in Beijing in 2015, can appeal the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Former world champion Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia who took bronze in 2:24:30 is now the highest ranked Olympian.

Last week, another Kenyan Felix Kirwa, a former Singapore Marathon silver medalist, was banned for failing an anti-doping test.

Felix Kirwa’s urine sample test came back positive with the presence of prohibited substance strychnine.

The 23-year-old, who was sixth at the Chongqing Marathon in China back in 2015, will have to serve a nine months’ ineligibility from competing in any athletics event starting from Feb. 14.

Three other Kenya runners—former world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop, Hilary Kepkosgei Yego and Samson Mungai Kagia have tested positive to banned substance in 2019.

Singapore Marathon champ Kirwa fails anti-doping test, faces nine-month ban

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Singapore Marathon silver medalist Felix Kirwa is the latest Kenyan athlete to be banned for failing an anti-doping test.

Kirwa’s urine sample test came back positive with the presence of prohibited substance strychnine, according to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

The test was done in an in-competition doping control in Singapore at the conclusion of his participation in the Singapore Marathon. He has an option to appeal the ban.

"The Athletics Integrity Unit has issued a decision against Kenyan long-distance runner Felix Kirwa for a violation of the anti-doping rules," said AIU in a statement on Wednesday.

"The WADA accredited laboratory in New Delhi reported an Adverse Analytical Finding for the presence of strychnine in the sample." In his defense, Kirwa said he took medicine to treat arthritis.

"The athlete admitted the anti-doping rule violations and provided the AIU with a copy of a medical file documenting his use of herbal medicine products to treat arthritis prior to the event.

"The products contained Strychnos nuxvomica, which contains Strychnine. Strychnine itself is not listed on either product," said AIU.

The 23-year-old, who was sixth at the Chongqing Marathon in China back in 2015, will have to serve a nine months’ ineligibility from competing in any athletics event starting from Feb. 14.

Kirwa launched his marathon career in China in 2015 when he clocked 2:14:42 to finish sixth at the Chongqing Marathon.

He later went to Brussels and claimed the silver medal clocking an impressive 2:15:17.

In 2016, Kirwa won his first marathon in Antwerp (2:15:57) and later excelled in Singapore to claim gold in 2:17:17.

A year later, he pitched camp in the Netherlands where he competed at the Rotterdam posting his personal best time of 2:06:13 while last year, he only raced in Singapore where he finished second in 2:13:43.

But that glittering career will be put on ice as he serves his nine-month ban.

He had hopes to make the World Championship marathon team and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

"The athlete has admitted the anti-doping rule violations with which he was charged and has accepted the consequences proposed," said AIU.

Three other Kenya runners—former world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop, Hilary Kepkosgei Yego and Samson Mungai Kagia have tested positive to banned substance in 2019.



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