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Kibiwott Kandie unbowed after Jacob Kiplimo broke 11-month old world record

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | November 23rd 2021
Kibiwott Kandie of Kenya celebrates at the podium after winning the annual "Sao Silvestre Run", an international race through the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil December 31, 2019. [Reuters, Amanda Perobelli]

A knee injury locked Kibiwott Kandie out of the Olympic trials in June and earlier this month, he ran his marathon debut in New York and finished ninth.

And on Sunday, his 57:32 world record in the half marathon was lowered by one second, by Ugandan star Jacob Kiplimo.

Kandie, 25, had set the previous world record in Valencia last December before transitioning to the full marathon this year.

Last December, Kandie chipped 29 seconds off a 58:01 set by his compatriot - two-time World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor in Copenhagen, in 2019.

On Sunday, at the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon, Kiplimo, who is the World Half Marathon champion, proved that athletes from the neighbouring country are unyielding in their pursuit to out-compete their Kenyan counterparts in both track and the roads.

The 2019 World cross country champion clocked 57:31 at the World Athletics Label road race.

Kiplimo’s compatriot Joshua Cheptegei, who is the 10th man in history to hold the 5,000m and 10,000m world records concurrently, both set in 2020, is also a dominant force in the global stage.

He stamped his authority at the Tokyo Olympic Games, winning gold in 5000m and silver in 10,000m.

“It was a challenging season for me and we are planning for the next season. I congratulate Kiplimo for breaking the record because records are set to be broken,” Kandie said yesterday in reaction to the new half marathon world record.

“I am happy because this is a challenge to all of us. My focus next season is the marathon, but setting new times in half marathon is also in the plan. With good preparation, it is possible for any athlete, including me, to lower the time,” he said.

Kiplimo, who won bronze for his country in 10,000m and finished fifth in the 5000m at the Tokyo Olympics in July and August this year, passed through the first 5km in 13:40.

"With one kilometre to go, I knew that I was going to break the world record," said Kiplimo. "When I was on the final straight and saw the clock, I gave it my best shot. I told myself I had to sprint fast to reach the finish line," he told World Athletics after the record-breaking win.

At 10km, in 27:05, Kiplimo had established a commanding lead of about one minute over the chase pack and the splits showed he was headed for a half marathon world record.

The 20-year-old Ugandan passed through 15km in 40:27, the fastest time ever recorded for the distance and indicative of a sub-57-minute finish. Since 1982, Kenyan men have broken half marathon world records 15 times.

Among Kenyan athletes who have shattered half marathon world records are: Michael Musyoki, who set the 1:01:38 in 1982, Benson Masya set 1:00:24 in 1993 (The Hague) before Moses Tanui lowered it to 59:47 in Milan the same year.

Tanui, now a retired athlete and Eldoret City marathon race director, warned of waning dominance in Kenya’s staple races for example the half marathon.

The two-time Boston Marathon winner said there was a need to change training tactics.

“If we don’t change, we may lose races in five years. My biggest worry is not losing the world record, it is about the training style. We need to go back to the drawing board,” Tanui said.

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