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Kamworor renews rivalry with Kandie in Istanbul tomorrow

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | April 3rd 2021
Geoffrey Kamworor competes in the 10km Women category at the National Police Service Cross Country Championship at Ngong Racecourse on Friday, Jan 28, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Tomorrow, the world’s focus will be on Istanbul as Kenya’s top half marathoners battle it out for honours at Turkey’s biggest City.

The Istanbul half marathon has assembled the strongest field in the distance, with four sub-59 minutes men – two of them Kenyans. The Kenyan contingent flew to Turkey yesterday.

A much-awaited clash of the reigning and former world record-holder Kibiwott Kandie and Geoffrey Kamworor respectively will ostensibly be the centre of attention.

Last December, Kandie spectacularly shattered the 58:01 world record set by Kamworor in Valencia in 2019, bringing it down to 57:32.

Tomorrow’s Istanbul half marathon will be Kamworor’s comeback race after recovering from surgery following a road accident in June last year. The Kenyan duo will face Ethiopian and Ugandan big guns.

Ethiopia’s Amedework Walelegn who set the 59.50 Istanbul Half Marathon course record in 2018 will be seeking to keep his title in this year’s race while Uganda’s Stephen Kissa, who made his debut over the distance in February last year and finished the year with a time of 58:56 will hope to write history in Turkey.

Kenya’s Leonard Barsoton, sixth at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia last year, will also be one of the fastest athletes on the start line.

The women’s field is equally as strong.

Kibiwott Kandie (right) leading in 10km senior men during AK - Lotto National Cross country championships cum trials for Africa cross country championships 2021 on Saturday, Feb 13, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

World champion Ruth Chepngetich won the Istanbul 2019 edition in a course record and is leading Kenyan stars tomorrow.

World marathon record-holder Brigid Kosgei and the women-only half-marathon world record-holder Peres Jepchirchir are headlining the race.

Kosgei, Chepngetich and Jepchirchir are part of the Kenyan women contingent to the Olympic Games women marathon in August and the Turkish race is part of their preps for the global show.

Also in the women field is Joan Chelimo, the two-time world half marathon champion.

The European women-only record-holder Melat Kejeta from Germany will also be on the start line. The home crowd expects Kejeta’s record to be challenged by Yasemin Can.

Having staged a successful edition under intense measures against Covid-19 in September last year, organisers of the event are now set to stage a race with the number of participants limited to 4000 on its traditional date of the first Sunday of April.

Meanwhile, the conversation to shape the future of athletics is well and truly under way.

International and national federations and associations, media organisations, community clubs, event organisers, athletes, officials, volunteers, coaches and fans of the sport have been heeding the call to take part in the ‘Global Conversation for the Future of Athletics’ after the starter pistol was fired by World Athletics president Sebastian Coe on March 22.

The unprecedented worldwide consultation has invited anyone with an interest in the sport to provide their thoughts and opinions to form the foundation of the World Plan for Athletics 2022-2030.

The world’s largest national populace, China, is throwing its weight behind the outreach campaign and urging people to take part.

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