What you need to know:
- Makau, who won silver medals at the 2007 Udine and 2008 Rio de Janeiro editions, said he is aware of stiff competition and the adverse weather that awaits them in Poland
- Makau, a former world marathon record holder, indicated that the women’s team is the finest ever with on form 2016 world half champion Peres Jepchirchir back in the team
- Team manager Patrick Kipsang said the weather is Gdynia will range from between six degrees to 11 degrees on the competition day
Head coach Patrick Makau is confident that his team for the World Half Marathon Championships due Saturday in Gdynia, Poland will win both the team and individual titles.
Makau, who won silver medals at the 2007 Udine and 2008 Rio de Janeiro editions, said he is aware of stiff competition and the adverse weather that awaits them in Poland.
Makau said defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor might be missing in action but reckons that the selected team led by Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) and Prague Half Marathon champion Kibiwott Kandie and 2017 World Cross Country Championships silver medallist Leonard Barsoton is equal to the task.
Makau, a former world marathon record holder, indicated that the women’s team is the finest ever with on form 2016 world half champion Peres Jepchirchir back in the team and Joycilline Jepkosgei out to make amends after settling for silver in Valencia 2018.
“This is a strong team and I can tell you the athletes are focused on the task ahead. They are determined to deliver,” said Makau.
Kamworor sealed his third consecutive title when he won in Valencia in 2018 in 1:00:02 as compatriots Barsaton, Barselius Kipyego and Jorum Okombo finished 12th, 15th and 18th. Alex Oloitiptip failed to finish the race.
Jepkosgei and Pauline Kaveke failed the test, settling for silver and bronze in Valencia as Netsanet Gudeta claimed victory not only in championship record but also in women’s only world record time of 1:06:11.
Kenya would also lose the team titles to Ethiopia.
“Kandie posted a world lead in half marathon with victory in 58:38 in Prague, Czech in September. This goes without saying that he will be the man to watch. We shall really bank on Barsaton’s experience,” Makau said adding that Bernard Kipkorir (59:07), Bernard Kimeli (59:07) and Morris Munene (59:22) also look strong by virtue of having good times.
Makau noted that even though the women’s team will be under pressure to deliver with the defending champion coming from Ethiopia, having Jepchirchir, who is fresh from setting a new women’s only world record in Prague with a time of 1:05:34, is a major boost.
“Peres is back and looks stronger after maternity leave and is eager to reclaim her title. One can easily see the hunger in Joyciline that she is ready to upgrade her silver to something better this time around,” said Makau. “They are ready to neutralise the weather and any challenge posed.”
Team manager Patrick Kipsang said the weather is Gdynia will range from between six degrees to 11 degrees on the competition day.
“It’s something similar to what we saw during the London Marathon. This is being experienced across most European countries in the northern part. Our athletes are aware and we are preparing them psychologically for that,” said Kipsang. “I love their spirit.”
The team will congregate at Riadha House on Wednesday before departure on Thursday for the world event.
Originally, the world half was slated to take place on March 29 but the event was postponed due to the rising levels of coronavirus, particularly in Europe at that time.