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Chepkoech wants to kill two birds with one stone in Tokyo

 Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech celebrates after winning in the Women's 3000m Steeplechase final at the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on September 30, 2019. [Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP]

Beatrice Chepkoech, the world 3000m steeplechase champion and record holder over the distance, has vowed to kill two birds with one stone this season: win an Olympic gold and lower her all-time mark.

But she has a mountain to climb against America’s 2017 world champion Emma Coburn and silver medallist Courtney Frerichs at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“I know they are still in good shape but I am also ready for them. I know Americans in Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs will be in the start line,” said Chepkoech, who is a Sergeant at the National Police Service.

“They are very strong at the moment. I watched them compete at the indoor meetings and realized they are in top form. I am not worried at all. I am ready for them.”

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic challenges, Chepkoech said she posted good shows in indoor meetings since she “adapted to the situation early enough.’’

“I have been training well all along although Covid-19 pandemic dealt our group training a big blow. I accepted the situation early enough and my training has been on well. We are working hard for the Olympic Games,” she said.

“I started competing in indoor meetings abroad, which I performed well. That raised my hopes ahead of the Olympics. “I broke the five-kilometre world record and that will count for nothing. I know my competitors have been training hard too. So I have to be well prepared for a tough challenge.”

 Athletics - IAAF Diamond League Final - King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium - August 31, 2018. Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech and Fancy Cherono in action during the women's 3000m steeplechase. [REUTERS/Francois Lenoir]

Last year, Chepkoech said most of the athletes were prepared for the Olympic Games before Covid-19 disrupted sports events.

But as a woman who took up athletics at a very young age, she is more than ready for Tokyo Games.

“I started running while a Standard Three pupil. I suffered chest problems and my parents could not allow me to get exposed to the cold. I used to put on so many clothes and when I sat in a classroom, I looked heavy bodied,” she said.

“One day, I spotted some athletes for an evening run. I gathered courage, removed the heavy attire and trailed them. And since I suffered chest problems, I arrived home coughing severely. My parent beat me up but I never lost hope. The following day, I was up again trailing them.

“They alerted teachers in school not to allow me join athletes for training. I sneaked away and followed them. By and by, the chest pains subsided and they gave up on me. They said maybe athletics could be my God-given talent.”

“That year, while in Standard Three I represented my school in four events up to provincial level. That’s in 100m hurdles, 200m, 400m hurdles and 1500m. And the rest is history.”

Chepkoech now makes a rallying call to parents to develop young talents.

“I call on children to take up their talents seriously,” she said.

I will soon step up to marathon and join our road racers like Eliud Kipchoge at the Global Sports Communications camp in Kaptagat.”

If she makes good her bid to break the world 3000m steeplechase record, Chepkoech will certainly join the elite club of athletes who broke their own records. They include two-time Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha, three-time world 3000m steeplechase champion Moses Kiptanui and world 21km record holder Peres Jepchirchir.

“I want to pull a surprise the way I did in Monaco when I set the five kilometre record.  I had not prepared for it. I was back from Lievin indoor meet and my manager asked to give it a shot,” she said.

Chepkoech trains together with her younger brothers Titus Langát and Japhet Langát in Kericho.

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