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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Eliud Kipchoge likens sub-two-hour marathon to 'Moon Landings'

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge has likened running a marathon in under two hours to man landing on the moon.

The world marathon record holder says he has no doubts he will make history at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria in October.

"Some people believe it is impossible.

"But my team believe it is possible.

"We will prove the critics wrong," Kipchoge said on Thursday.

The window set aside for the race is October 12 to 20, with the exact date of the challenge to be decided nearer the time when an accurate weather forecast is available.

At his first attempt in 2017 in Monza, Italy, Kipchoge missed out on the milestone by just 26 seconds, though he says that experience has given him the confidence to try again.

"I was like a boxer who goes in the ring and doesn’t know what will happen," he said of his 2017 attempt.

"But this time I am prepared, and I know what will happen."

The 34-year-old has won Olympic and World Championship gold medals and his eight major marathon successes include four victories in London.

He also holds the world record over the 26.2-mile distance: 2:01:39, set in Berlin in 2018.

However, for Kipchoge, completing the INEOS 1:59 Challenge would mean much more to him than any of his previous glories.

"It’s more important," he said.

"This is about history and making a mark in sport.

"It’s like being the first man to go to the moon, I will be the first man to run under two hours.

"I’m really excited and looking forward to this historic day."

Kipchoge was speaking from his training base in Kaptagat, Kenya where he has been preparing for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in much the same as for any other marathon.

"Nothing much has changed, the training is the same," Kipchoge said.

"What has changed is the mental preparation, I have a free mind and am ready to go.

"I’m really enjoying the experience.

"My training is simple.

"I trust in my coaching system, I trust in my team and that is what makes my mind strong.

"I can’t lie to myself if I am going to be successful."

Kipchoge believes he has learned lessons from his first attempt at a sub two-hour marathon in Monza and says the Vienna course will give him every chance of breaking the two-hour barrier.

"Monza was a big, big successful event and I enjoyed the experience.

"Vienna is a very flat and low course and that makes a difference.

"Being a straight course can help me run at a comfortable pace in a comfortable time," he said.

The London champion, however, says he has no idea if he is at his peak.

"After doing it in Vienna, many athletes will believe for themselves that it is possible," he said.

"I don’t know what time is the limit, I don’t have any limits.

"But my target is 1:59. I don’t know if I am at my peak now, but I am at the right age to make history," he added.
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UPDATES:

Kipchoge will settle on Choge, Lagat to pacemake
in ambitious INEOS 1:59 Challenge race in Vienna

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Three seasoned road runners, Augustine Choge, Victor Chumo from Kenya and double world champion Bernard Lagat of the United States have been selected to pace for Eliud Kipchoge in his mission to run the marathon in less than two hours in Vienna in October.

Choge and Chumo are part of the team training with Kipchoge in Kenya for the race, which is set for October 12-20 window in Vienna, Austria.

A specific date will be made known days to the race after the accurate weather forecast has been confirmed.

Kipchoge says to break the two-hour mark in marathon is about setting history and challenging his body to the limit.

"It’s like stepping on the moon, going up the tallest mountain and even going to the middle of the ocean," Kipchoge said on Saturday.

Whereas the focus will be on the Olympic and London Marathon champion to improve on his last mark of two hours and 25 seconds, the three pace setters will carry the burden to lead the Berlin champion through his steps and see to it that he delivers the results for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

In Monza, Italy in 2017, Lagat was one of the pace setters together with Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa and Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, both of whom fell by the wayside, leaving the Olympic champion to run over half of the race alone.

But now the organizers have announced the trio together with Norway’s Henrik, Filip and Jakob Ingebrigtsen plus Australian pair Jack Rayner and Brett Robinson.

Further pacemakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen said:

"To be a teenager and to be part of this project is really amazing.

"As a family we are used to running together and to be able to run together, alongside other great athletes to help Eliud Kipchoge try to break two hours will be something very special."

Kipchoge has since run a world marathon record of two hours, one minute and 39 seconds in winning in Berlin Marathon in September last year.
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World record holder Beatrice Chepkeoch on gold
medal hunt in Birmingham Diamond League

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- World 3,000 meters steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech says her priority this season is to win the Diamond Trophy and the World Championships.

Chepkoech, will be back on the Diamond circuit in Birmingham on Sunday hopeful to prolong her chase for the final with another victory.

The Kenyan, 26, already has two wins this season from Shanghai, China and Prefontaine Classic in Stanford, the United States in May.

"I want to win gold. Last year, I had high hopes of winning the Africa Championships, but it was never to be.

"At Rio Olympics I was fourth and so was at the London World Championships in 2017. Now I hope in 2019, I will finally win a big title in Doha, Qatar," Chepkoech said on Saturday.

In Birmingham, she will lead a horde of Kenyan elite stars including World Under-20 steeplechase champion Celliphine Chespol, who finished second in Shanghai, former world champion Hyvin Kiyeng, Caroline Tuigong, Daisy Jepkemei and Norah Jeruto.

In the men’s 1500 meters race Cornelius Kiplangat and Cornelius Tuwei will carry Kenya’s flag and will face stiff competition from race favorite Ethiopia’s Samuel Tefera.

Chepkoech has also said she intends to debut at the World Indoor Tour in 2020 with an aim of running at the ultimate stage in Nanjing, China in March.

"I have never run the world indoor championships, and next year China is hosting it.

"Maybe if I will be in top form, then I will see how it will go.

"I want to break the jinx of winning medals in 2019 and then Nanjing World Indoor will be another step for me," she said.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Philemon Rono shakes off calf injury, seeks third Toronto Marathon title

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A calf injury denied Philemon Rono the clear chance to win his third Toronto Marathon in 2018, but the Kenya runner is returning to Canada to accomplish his enormous task on Oct. 20.

The 28-year-old had hopes to making the Kenyan team to the World Championships, but his health condition has seen the selectors overlook his fitness and will miss the trip to Doha, Qatar.

However, he nurtures hopes of breaking into the Kenyan marathon team for the Tokyo Olympics and hopes a third Toronto Marathon win may sway the attention of the selectors to his advantage.

"I am excited to announce that I will return to run in Toronto for the fourth time.

"However, it will be hopefully my third gold win.

"Toronto is a nice town, and it has a good course.

"This time it will be something fantastic and I want to challenge myself to go for the win," said Rono.

It will not be an easy walk in the park for Rono.

"The Boston Marathon sixth finisher will face stiffest competition so far from Abera Kuma, who has a personal best of 2:05:50, and Benson Kipruto, who won last year’s marathon in 2:07:24.

Rono has won Toronto Marathon twice - the first time in 2016, and the second time in 2017, when he set the Canadian all-comers record of 2:06:52 (also his personal best).

Rono, who trains with NN Running (marathon world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge’s group), was dealing with a calf injury and didn’t have a great race in 2018, finishing ninth in 2:13:36, but the diminutive runner, who is called Baby Police in their camp, is healthy and will be back bubbling with strength to wrest his third title and also lower the Canadian all-time record.

Rono raced at Boston in April, finishing sixth, in 2:08:57, which he was happy with.

"He is currently training under coach Patrick Sang keen to follow in the footsteps of Olympic and London Marathon champion Kipchoge.

"We watch everything Kipchoge does," he said.
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Steeplechase champ Kipruto shakes off injury, returns to action in Paris

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Olympic and World steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto is due to return to competition two weeks earlier than planned in Paris Diamond League on Aug. 24.

Kipruto, 24, had incurred a foot fracture in May, which ruled him out of competition for up to four months with his agent Michel Boeting saying he was expected to return to action in September.

However, Kipruto has given himself a short in the arm and entered for the Paris Diamond League, where he will compete for the first time this season.

His last action was at the Arhus, Denmark World Cross Country Championships in March.

"Kipruto has settled on Paris to make his comeback, having had some time out from the track in May after fracturing his foot," said informs Paris Diamond League organizers.

The Kenyan will face world number one this season, Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali.

The Moroccan, has already posted two wins this season in the Diamond League in Doha (8:07:22) and Monaco (8:04:82).

Organizers hope that the return of Kipruto to action will inject new impetus and urgency in the steeplechase to break the eight-minute barrier for the first time this season.

Alongside the two, there will also be Frenchman Djilali Bedrani who posted a personal best time of 8:09:47 in Monaco in July.

Paris will offer Kipruto a realistic chance to gauge his preparedness ahead of running at the Africa Games, which has its athletics events program starting on Aug. 26-30 in Rabat, Morocco.

Kipruto is also expected to battle El Bakkali for the continental bragging rights.

However, Kipruto is time barred from jostling for the Diamond League trophy defense owing to his lengthy stay out of competition.

There are just five places left up for grabs in the men’s 3000m steeplechase, with El Bakkali and Benjamin Kigen of Kenya among the seven who have already secured qualification.

As it stands, the only question is whether 13th placed Takele Nigate, or indeed any athlete who is yet to pick up any points, can squeeze in at the bottom of the top 12 with a good showing in Paris.

Kipruto needs that inspiration to unleash his best kick and force himself in the finals.

The men’s 3000m steeplechase Diamond League final will take place in Brussels on Sept. 6.

Meanwhile an excellent 1,500m has also been assembled for Paris. Diamond Trophy holder Timothy Cheruiyot has long been sure of his place in the 2019 final thanks to victories in Stockholm, Eugene and Lausanne.

Ayanleh Souleiman, Vincent Kebet and Jakob Ingebrigsten have also already qualified, with both having chalked up a handful of podium finishes on the Road to The Final.

Filip Ingebrigsten looks a safe bet to join the four finalists with 11 points in fifth place, while the likes of Bethwell Birgen, Elijah Manangoi and Marcin Lewandowski will also be confident of a place in the top 12.

Further down, John Gregorek and Ronald Musagala might be looking over their shoulders as they sit just a point or two clear of the chasing pack, with Craig Engels, Clayton Murphy and Ronald Kwemoi all hoping to knock them out of the top 12.

The men’s 1500m Diamond League Final will take place in Brussels on Sept. 6.
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Kenya beat Ethiopia 3-2 in women’s soccer friendly

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya finally secured revenge against Ethiopia as they claimed a 3-2 win in a women’s soccer friendly in Nairobi on Saturday.

The win boost Kenya’s hopes of a good run in the Africa Olympic qualification campaign as they head to Blantyre, Malawi on August 28.

Head coach David Ouma said his refreshed squad is now ready for the continental debacle against Malawi in which the winner will play against Ghana or Gabon in the third round.

"We have put in a lot of effort in training and it has paid off if today’s results are anything to go by.

"It is time for me to assess how well my players have performed," said Ouma here on Saturday.

"Ethiopia is a good side.

"We lost to them at the CECAFA Women Championships last year in Rwanda so it was important to see how good we are against them.

"We are going to attack against Malawi and I’m confident we’ll give a positive result," he added.

Forward Mwanahalima Adam was the star of the show, netting twice while assisting a late winner, which now sets the Starlets in high spirits ahead of their upcoming Olympics qualifier against Malawi.

Adam was on target in the 7th minute, outpacing the Ethiopian defense before slotting the ball over the onrushing Balcha Tarikua.

The first half ended 1-0.

Ware Birtukan then restored parity for the guests upon resumption, capitalizing on the Starlets’ slow reaction to a free-kick.

Adam was at it again, slotting past the Ethiopian goalie off a lob from Starlets midfielder Corazone Aquino.

The lead didn’t last long, however, Serkadis Kidane tapping in from close range just moments later.

As the match seemed to be heading for a draw, Adam was hacked down as she went for goal.

Gentrix Shikangwa stepped up to slot in the spot-kick that saw the Starlets take home the full share of spoils in stoppage time.

Focus now shifts to the upcoming Olympics Qualifier against Malawi.

The first leg is set to be played on August 28, 2019, in Blantyre.

The second leg is slated for September 1, 2019, in Nairobi.
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Kenya wrestlers seeks new beginning, domination at Africa Games in Morocco

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya wrestlers hope to use the experience gained from the African Championships held in Tunisia in March to dominate at the Africa Games and win their first ever gold.

Kenya only won two wrestling medals at the last games in Brazzaville, Congo through Holln Ochieng and Sammy Nyongesa and the team manager Eric Walucho believes there has been more exposure and fresh talent coming through the system capable of wresting gold in Rabat, Morocco.

The Africa Games start on August 19-30.

"After the 2015 performance in Congo, the team went back to the drawing board and reviewed our mistakes and have done well at the Africa Championships.

"Now we need to take it a notch higher at the Africa Games and win more medals.

"Gold should be among them," said Walucho on Saturday in Nairobi.

Kenya has also made random dope test to ascertain there is no cheats in the team. In the last games, two Nigerian medalists were disqualified due to doping.

They were 55 kg women’s freestyle gold medalist Patience Opuene and 60 kg runner-up Ebi James Igbadiwe.

Now Walucho believes with good preparation, the team can finally exhibit their potential and dominate at the continental stage.

Kenya team has 10 wrestlers - six men and four women - and will make the last batch of players to depart for Morocco on August 22.
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Stella Kasimili focuses on winning Kenya first gold medal in karate

by Ben Ochiengh NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Karate has for long been underrated among the national sports in Kenya where the game’s players have had limited exposure over the years.

However, a player with the national women’s team is on a mission to change the storyline during the 12th African Games set to run from Aug.19 to Aug.31 in Rabat, Morocco where she believes she has the capacity to upset the apple-cart at the continental event.

Kenya will field six men and four women karatekas to battle for its spot in the martial arts against strong challenge from giants Algeria, Egypt, Congo, Senegal, Cameroon and South Africa who topped the medal standings in Congo Brazzaville four years ago.

"My focus now is on bringing Kenya a medal after which I will have be accomplished my mission in karate.

"I have worked so hard and so long to represent the country and I will ensure I fight to the end," Stella Kasimili told Xinhua.

Kasimili is one of the women exponents who were graded during the international grading of black belt ‘Shodan’ (first degree) competition in July in Nairobi that was supervised by Peter Brandon, president of Goju Kai Karate in Africa.

"I am delighted with my new black belt grading, which made me one of the few women to hold the highest ranking in karate in Kenya," Kasimili, 32, who is a corporal with Kenya’s correctional service, said.

Karate has limited entries to African Games because the Kenyan team previously performed dismally, a state-of-affair that karate coach John Owiti want to change to prove critics wrong.

"Our target is to secure the first gold medal for Kenya from karate.

"There is a lot of potential in the country and what has been lacking is the international exposure and competition," he said.

For all their efforts, Kenya has only one bronze medal to show from the Maputo 2011 African Games.

             

 

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