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KENYAN STARS TARGET SHANGHAI: 800m champ Sum to lead array of world-beaters in China

By Chris Musumba | May 14th 2015
From left; Agatha Cheruto, Sylvia Chesebe, Eunice Sum, Janeth Jepkosgei during the 800m women final at the Athletics Kenya National Championship at Nyayo Stadium on 7-06-2014.DENNIS OKEYO


World 800m Champion Eunice Sum, has cautioned her fans, she will run sparingly this season and hope to peak just before the Beijing World Championships in August.

Sum, 27, will be leading a galaxy of stars to the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on Sunday and believes she has gained enough endurance to push for a faster race in China. Accompanied by her mentor and former world 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei, the duo will depart for China today.

“It is my first race in a big competition this season. Of course I ran to shake off the rust in Nakuru last month, but to me the season starts in Shanghai on Sunday,” she said.

In Nakuru, Sum competed in the 1,500m distance clocking 4:09.7 and in the process beating Viola Kibiwott, Irene Chepkemoi and Janeth Jepkosgei.

“I am happy with my performance there. I wanted to gauge my endurance. Now as I go to Shanghai, I will be more contented and confident as I seek to run under 2:00.

“What is important is to run well there (Shanghai). To see how I will fare with the challenge on parade and then we will sit down with the coaches and review it as we focus on the next event,” she added.

Alongside Shanghai, Sum said she plans to compete in Eugene (May 30), Birmingham (June 7) and Paris (July 4).

“I will run sparingly this season because it is a World Championship year. The focus is for me to successfully defend my crown in Beijing,” she said.

Sum, who has already qualified to the World Championship on two accounts – as Diamond League winners in 800m and the defending champion in the two lap race – says like her mentor, Janeth Jepkosgei, she faces a big task to retain her crown. “It is true in 2013, I was not the favourite and the focus was not on me. But I have also developed and grown in the sport and will be ready to lay down my title and work hard to retain it,” she added.

However, Sum declined to point out any athlete she believes will be of greater danger to her in the quest to conquer Beijing.

Having upset Olympic champion Russian Mariya Saminova, she is ready for any challenge. Since 2013, Sum has gone on to win the Commonwealth Games, IAAF Continental Cup, Africa Athletics Championships and back-to-back IAAF Diamond League trophies.

In Shanghai, alongside Jepkosgei (1:56.04), Sum who has a personal best time of 1:57.38 will come up against Russian Yekaterina Poistogova (1:57.53), Uganda’s Winnie Nanyondo, Malika Akkaoui of Morocco and Britain’s Jennifer Meadows, the former World Bronze medallist.

In the 5,000m distance, Kenya will hope World Cross Country Champion Agnes Tirop, 19, will weather the storm from Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia.

Other Kenyans in the race are Irene Chebet, Irene Jelagat, Viola Kibiwot, Magdalene Masai, Stacey Chepkemboi Ndiwa and Perine Nengampi.

Diamond Race winner Silas Kiplagat is one of 10 talented Kenyans in the 1,500m race that features three men who have broken 3:30.

Kiplagat heads that list after his incredible run at the Monaco Diamond League meeting last July when he beat world champion Asbel Kiprop and led seven men under three and a half minutes.

Kiplagat clocked 3:27.64 to place fourth on the all-time list, while teenage sensation Ronald Kwemoi was just one second behind as he smashed the world junior record with 3:28.81.

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