Blow to Team Kenya as star duo withdraws from World Half Marathon

Kenya's Joyciline Jepkosgei (centre), Violah Jepchumba (left) and Fancy Chemutai pose for photos on the podium after at the Prague Half Marathon on April 1, 2017. PHOTO | ELIAS MAKORI |

What you need to know:

  • Jepkosgei had on April 1 last year lowered the world half marathon record to 1:04:52 in Prague.

The 2016 World Half Marathon bronze medallist Mary Wacera and Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon champion Fancy Chemutai have withdrawn from the World Half Marathon Championship due Saturday in Valencia, Spain.

Kenya will now be represented by three athletes at the championships - World Half Marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei, Ruth Chepg’etich and Pauline Kaveke.

Athletics Kenya chief executive officer Susan Kamau said that Wacera and Chemutai's withdrawal made it impossible to replace them.

The team was due to leave for Valencia on Wednesday night where they will join defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor, who arrived in the Spanish city on Tuesday.

A last ditch effort to have reserve Joan Chelimo included by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) failed as the final entries were made on Monday last week.

The men’s team has a full entry of five athletes with the Kenya Defence Forces long-distance runner Alex Oloitiptip having replaced two-time World Half Marathon silver Bedan Karoki before the final entries deadline.


Each country will field five athletes with three to score for the team titles where Kenya will defending both titles.

Two times defending champion Kamworor and Jepkosgei will lead Kenya’s assault.

Kamworor, who won his maiden title at 2014 Copenhagen before defending the crown in 2016 Cardiff, will once again partner with Oloitiptip and the 2017 Family Bank Half Marathon winner Jorum Okombo.

Also in the team are World Cross Country silver medallist Leonard Barsoton and Barselius Kipyego, the winner of the Ústí nad Labem Half Marathon in Czech last year in the team.

Okombo and Oloitiptip finished second and third in personal bests of 58:48 and 58:51 respectively at the Copenhagen Half Marathon last September while Kipyego broke the course record with victory in 59:15 at Ústí nad Labem Half Marathon.


Kamworor won in 2014 Copenhagen in a world lead and championship record time of 59:08 before retaining the crown at 2016 Cardiff in 59:10, the second fastest time in the championship. Karoki settled for silver in 59:36 in Cardiff to floor Briton Mo Farah to third in 59:59.

“I have done enough preparations and we are all ready as a team,” said Kamworor.

Jepkosgei, who broke the world half marathon twice last year, will be returning to Valencia, where she broke the world half marathon record last on October 22 in a new time of 1 hour, 04 minutes and 51 seconds.

Jepkosgei had on April 1 last year lowered the world half marathon record to 1:04:52 in Prague.


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