Joyciline Jepkosgei now most sought after athlete

Joyciline Jepkosgei celebrates at the finish line after smashing the world half-marathon record in the Prague Half Marathon on April 1, 2017. PHOTO | ELIAS MAKORI |

What you need to know:

  • Inside just 12 months, Joyciline Jepkosgei has ascended from the zenith to the nadir of distance running, and now every manager wants her to enlist on their start lists. 
  • On Sunday, the brand new world half marathon record holder's manager, Davos Savija of Prague-based Ikaika Sport, was spoilt for choice, busy trying to negotiate a mouth-watering schedule for the lady from Cheptil, Nandi County. 
  • A race in Japan seems to be the front-runner for Jepkosgei's signature although the Ikaika management is still holding cards close to chest. 

Inside just 12 months, Joyciline Jepkosgei has ascended from the zenith to the nadir of distance running, and now every manager wants her to enlist on their start lists. 

On Sunday, the brand new world half marathon record holder's manager, Davos Savija of Prague-based Ikaika Sport, was spoilt for choice, busy trying to negotiate a mouth-watering schedule for the lady from Cheptil, Nandi County. 

A race in Japan seems to be the front-runner for Jepkosgei's signature although the Ikaika management is still holding cards close to chest. 

It could be the Gifu Half Marathon in 20 days. Or the Sendai Half Marathon in a month's time. Who knows.

But for now, Jepkosgei will let her new-found celebrity status sink in when she arrives back home on Monday to a queen's welcome. 

Jepkosgei, 24, stirred the global distance running scene when she shattered four distance running world records on the way to winning Saturday's Prague Half Marathon in a world best time of one hour, four minutes and 52 seconds to become the first woman to cover the 21-kilometre distance in under 65 minutes. 

The first world record Jepkosgei shattered was Briton Paula Radcliffe's 14-year-old, 10-kilometre world best by covering the distance in 30:04 (compared to Radcliffe's 30:21, set on February 23 at the World's Best 10km Race in San Juan, Puerto Rico).

Second, she strangled compatriot Florence Kiplagat's 15km world record of 46:15, set in Barcelona in February, 2015, setting a new mark of 45:37.

Third, she went for the jugular, crossing the 20km mark in 1:01:25 and eclipsing the previous world best 1:01:40 stamped by outgoing half marathon record holder Peres Jepchirchir on the way to winning last February's Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in a then world record 1:05:06.

The fourth world record, of course, came when she crossed the 21km mark at the finish line in 1:04:52.

Interestingly, Jepchirchir started running just last year, her main podium finish being a third place in the First Lady's Half Marathon in March. 

"I wasn't really serious with athletics in school, but Mr Omondi, the teacher who coached me kept telling me I can run fast," Jepkosgei, and alumna of Cheptil High School in Nandi County recollected. 

"I always wanted to be like Joyce Chepkirui, because I liked her running style and she was always winning," the mother of a five-year-old boy, Brandon Rotich, and who is coached by her husband, Nicholas Koech said.

Joyciline's record-breaking run thoroughly overshadowed the men's race in which Ethiopia's Rio Olympic 10,000 metres bronze medallist Tamirat Tola continued with his amazing form, dipping under the one hour barrier for the first time to win the race in 59:37 ahead of a procession of Kenyans led Josephat Kimutai Tanui (1:00:38), Geoffrey Yegon (1:00:41) and pre-race favourite Barselius Kipyego (1:00:47).

USA's Olympic Marathon bronze medallist Galen Rupp, running his first half marathon in Europe, was down at 11th place in 1:01:59.

He flew out to his US base limping from an injury he sustained during the race, saying he isn't yet sure whether to compete in the marathon or 10,000m at the World Championships in London in August.

Rupp, also an eight times US 10,000 metres champion, hopes he will recover in time for the Boston Marathon on April 17 where is the home favourite.

Meanwhile, Jepkosgei's four new world records await ratification by the IAAF.

"As usual, the IAAF will come and verify the course and we also await the anti-doping reports but I'm confident all will be well," said Carlo Capalbo, the Prague Half Marathon race organiser and founder who is also the chairman of the IAAF Road Running Commission.

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