New headache for Kenyan Olympic selectors

Conquerers of Valencia: (From left) Valencia Half Marathon winners Kibiwott Kandie and Peres Jepchirchir with Valencia Marathon winner Evans Chebet display their trophies during a reception hosted for them by Athletics Kenya at Riadha House, Nairobi on December 8, 2020.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Jepchirchir said the Olympics postponement presented a great opportunity for her to seek a ticket in the marathon team even though AK had already named the team.
  • “I wanted to run 2:17 in Berlin to have a chance at the Olympics but the race was canceled. I am thank God it still did it in Valencia and I hope my case will be considered,” said Jepchirchir, who intends to lower her personal best to 2:15 or 2:14 in some of the world marathon majors next year.

For Kenyan Olympic selectors, it’s a good headache to have.

Record-breaking performers at last weekend’s Valencia Marathon are now pitching tent in “Team Kenya” offices, seeking tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

New half marathon world record holder, Kibiwott Kandie, says he wants to emulate his role model and fellow soldier, legendary Paul Tergat, both on the road and track, and wants a ticket to compete in the 10,000 metres on the Tokyo track next year.

Kandie shattered compatriot Geoffrey Kamworor’s world record in the 21-kilometres when he won the Valencia Half Marathon in 57 minutes and 32 seconds, slicing almost 20 seconds off Kamworor’s mark.

Meanwhile, world half marathon record holder (women only race) Peres Jepchirchir and Evans Chebet, who won women and men’s full marathon races in Valencia, and in course record times, are also confident Athletics Kenya will respect their form and consider them in the Olympic marathon team for Tokyo.

Jepchirchir ran the fifth fastest time ever in marathon when winning the women’s race in 2:17:16, while Chebet returned the sixth fastest time ever in men’s marathon when he won men’s race in 2:03:00.

Kandie, Jepchirchir and Chebet were speaking Tuesday morning at Riadha House where Athletics Kenya hosted them upon their return from Valencia.

Also in the contingent were world marathon bronze medallist Amos Kipruto, who finished third in Valencia in a personal best 2:03:30, Alexander Mutiso, who was fifth in half marathon, Dorcas Tuitoek, who settled fourth in half marathon and 2017 world marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui.

In legend Tergat’s footsteps

They were received by Athletics Kenya’s senior vice president Paul Mutwii, chief administrative officer Susan Kamau and director of youth and development Barnaba Korir.

“My next major plan is to be at the Olympics and I want to try my luck in the 10,000m. I know it won’t be easy but I will work hard towards it. It’s possible if I show commitment towards training, “said the 24-year-old Kandie, who is determined to follow in legend Tergat’s footsteps.  

Tergat, who is the National Olympic Committee of Kenya President, was the first man to break the half marathon world record thrice and the second man to win senior men’s title five times at World Cross Country Championships.

He won two silver medals in 10,000m at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics as well as the 1997 and 1999 world Championships.  Tergat won the 1999 and 2000 world half marathon titles.

“We come from the same county of Baringo and people say we have similar running styles and I say like father like son. I really want to follow his footsteps,” said Kandie, who wants to further lower the world record further to 56 minutes.  

Jepchirchir said the Olympics postponement presented a great opportunity for her to seek a ticket in the marathon team even though AK had already named the team.

“I wanted to run 2:17 in Berlin to have a chance at the Olympics but the race was canceled. I am thank God it still did it in Valencia and I hope my case will be considered,” said Jepchirchir, who intends to lower her personal best to 2:15 or 2:14 in some of the world marathon majors next year.

Mutwii hinted that there will be a review of the teams that were named early this year for the nos postponed Olympics.

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