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Kibiwott Kandie seeks to end Olympic gold dry spell

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | April 30th 2021
Kibiwott Kandie, the new world record half marathon holder poses with his trophy upon arrival from Valencia Marathon at AK offices in Nairobi on December 8, 2020. [Kelly Ayodi, The Standard]

Three weeks after winning the Istanbul half marathon, world record holder in the event, Kibiwott Kandie is in a race to represent Kenya in 10,000m in the Tokyo Olympics.

At the splendid display in Turkey, Kandie edged out former world half marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor, who is also eying a slot in Kenya’s Olympic 10,000m team.

The Iten-based athlete is now focused on earning a ticket to fly the national flag in the 25-lap race where Kenya has not won an Olympic gold medal since 1968.

His coach Joseph Cheromei says he is hopeful that Kandie will make the team.

“Kandie and other athletes eying the Olympic slots are intensifying their training. He is training with a strong group of athletes and he is focused. We are lucky that despite suspension of sports events in the country, we can train the athletes in camp unlike last year when camps were closed,” the tactician said.

Although he failed to top in the national cross country championships earlier this year, Kandie came back weeks later to win after sprinting to victory in 10,000m at the first Athletics Kenya (AK) Track and Field meeting at Nyayo Stadium. In a tactical move, Kandie took a cautious approach as he trailed his rivals, only to unleash a spectacular sprint in the final two laps.

He said he is optimistic that Kenyan athletes will break the 53-year-old 10,000m Olympic gold medal dry spell, this year. The late Naftali Temu was the last man to clinch gold in Mexico City.

Kandie (right) leading in 10km senior men during AK - Lotto National Cross country champi8onships cum trials for Africa cross country championships 2021 on Saturday, Feb 13, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, The Standard]

Paul Tergat and Paul Tanui almost ended the long search for 10,000m Olympic gold medal when they won silver in 2000 and 2016 respectively.

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“I am now focused on the Tokyo Olympics. I hope I will secure a ticket to represent the country because I have the desire to prove to the world that I can also perform in the track - that is why I made a decision to compete in a 10,000m event (in the AK weekend meets) with the aim of securing an Olympic ticket,” Kandie said.

“I am alive to the fact that we have not been recording the best results in 10,000m in recent years but I believe with team work and early preparations, we will be able to post impressive results in Tokyo. I wish to be part of those who will make Kenya proud.”

Kandie smashed the half marathon world record by 29 seconds at the Valencia Half Marathon last December, finishing in 57 minutes and 32 seconds and breaking the previous record of 58:01 set by Kamworor in September 2019.

“I will be more than happy to see the Kenyan flag being raised high,” he said.

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