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Kenya’s Half-Marathon stars focus on Gdynia

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen | October 11th 2020
Kenya's Joyceline Jepkosgei during 2017 Prague Half Marathon. [Phoro: Reuters]

Newly crowned women-only world 21km record holder Peres Jepchirchir and former world cross country silver medalist Leonard Barsoton will lead Kenyan charges to World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, on Saturday next week.

Jepchirchir, who shocked global athletics when she erased the 66:11 women-only world record by slapping a new mark of 65:34 at last month’s Prague 21km contest, is keen to stage a good show.

The 27-year-old athlete, who won bronze at the 2016 World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, was a late inclusion in the national team.

“I got the call up into the team recently. Just after I set the women-only record in Prague. I am grateful for the selection. I have been training and I hope we will perform well in Poland,” she said.

Jepchirchir, the Lisbon Marathon winner, broke Florence Kiplagat’s record before Joyceline Jepkosgei slapped a new record. She has also won Saitama Marathon in Japan.

But she is worried of weather conditions in Poland. “I train in Kapsabet, which is relatively warm. So, I hope to overcome the cold weather conditions. Our team is strong enough,” she said.

She will join forces with world 21km record holder in mixed-gender races Joyceline Jepkosgei, who has a personal best of 64:51 minutes and also record holder in 10km in 29:43 minutes.

Brillian Jepkorir will carry her 67.12 best mark set in Copenhagen to the lineup.

Jepkorir, who trains at Kapkitony in Keiyo South, has come of age since dominating junior cross country races while under 16 years.

Joyceline Jepkosgei (left) and Hellen Obiri during the Kenya Defence Forces Cross Country Championships at Moi Airbase on January 12, 2018. [File, Standard]

Dorcas Jepchumba, who has 67:10 personal best set in Barcelona in February and 2015 African Games 5,000m bronze medalist Rosemary Wanjiru, who has 65.34 mark set in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) this year, are also in the squad.

During the 2014 Copenhagen show, Gladys Cherono led then silver medalist Mary Wacera Ngugi, bronze medalist Sally Chepyego Kaptich, Lucy Kabuu and Mercy Kibarus into sealing the first top-five sweep in the championships’ history.

In men’s front, Barsoton will lead RAK 21km winner Kibiwott Kandie, who takes an impressive 58.38 mark set in Prague last month to the showpiece.

Barsoton, the 2015 African Games 10000m silver medalist, said he has trained well in Iten.

“We have a strong team. I am certain we will produce good results. I have competed in Poland and I am prepared for the chilly weather conditions,” said Barsoton.

The 23-year-old Kandie from Baringo, who trains in Ngong shot into the limelight during the national cross country championships in February.

Bernard Kimeli, who posted 59:07 at the 2019 Prague 21km contest, will be out to make a statement in his debut in the national team. He trains in Iten.

Like Kimeli, another team member in Bernard Kipkorir has 59:07 set at the 2019 Valencia Half Marathon.

Morris Munene, who comes from Embu, will take his 59:22 best mark he posted in RAK 21km contest last year.

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