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Cherono ready to make history on Olympic debut

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | April 14th 2021
Lawrence Cherono (left) trains with Mathew Sang (centre) and Elisha Kipchirchir in Iten last Tuesday. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

His 2:03:04 personal best ranks him seventh fastest marathoner in the world

Chicago Marathon champion is in the Games squad alongside Kipchoge, Kipchumba and Kipruto.

Lawrence Cherono, the marathoner known for his jaw-dropping sprint finishes that leave rivals gasping for breath, is ready for his biggest assignment this year.

The Chicago and Boston marathon champion is part of the team to the Tokyo Olympic Games alongside world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, London Marathon runner-up Vincent Kipchumba and world bronze medalist Amos Kipruto.

At the Rosa Associati camp in Kiptagat, Cherono is taking one step at a time in a scheme to pull a surprise on his Olympic debut.

The two-time Amsterdam marathon winner says he has trained his sights on the Olympics, and will not be lining up in any race ahead of the Games.

Last December, Cherono clocked his 2:03:04 personal best at the Valencia marathon, coming second behind surprise winner Evans Chebet. He is ranked seventh fastest marathoner in the world.

“My primary focus now is on the Olympic Games marathon. There is no other race for me before the Olympics,” Cherono said from Kaptagat where he is training.

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The former Prague and Honolulu winner said he will consider, with the advise of his manager, taking part in races towards the end of the year – after an expected bruising battle at the Olympics.

Lawrence Cherono, of Kenya, holds the trophy after winning the 123rd Boston Marathon, on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP)

He thanked Athletics Kenyan for trusting him with the task to represent the country in, pledging to adhere to a meticulous plan to deliver.

“It is our hope that the rescheduled Tokyo Games will take place. I must train hard despite the uncertainties occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also my hope that the pandemic will be behind us so that we take part in races,” he said.

Cherono could not defend his Boston and Chicago titles last year following cancellation of the races.

“The Olympic Games will present a momentous opportunity for me and many other athletes to represent the country,” he said.

On training under strict Covid-19 protocols that have resulted in indefinite suspension of sports events in the country late last month, Cherono said he has adapted to the new normal and has been training in small groups.

He said many athletes were hoping for the return of sporting competitions this year, only for the global pandemic to persist.

“The pandemic has denied most of us opportunities to compete and earn income. Training on my own is challenging because athletics requires teamwork,” he said.

“I was entered in the Valencia marathon last year after the cancellation of Chicago and Boston marathons and I had to move from Kaptagat to Iten. While in Iten, I found a bigger team to train with. I am happy that I came in second in Valencia with a PB.”

He said several elite athletes in the North Rift region were thirsting for the Eldoret City marathon prize money before the race was postponed indefinitely following the Presidential directive.

Cherono called for resumption of races, under enhanced health protocols, to allow athletes to compete in local races as they prepare for the Games and other international events.

“Athletes in Kaptagat and other camps were ready for races. We have no option but to abide by the protocols,” he said.

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