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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Anxiety as four athletes miss Kenya training camp for London worlds

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan team coach Julius Kirwa said Tuesday four members of the World Championships team have not reported to the pre-event training camp in Nairobi.

The missing athletes are Irene Cheptai, Agnes Jebet, Eunice Sum and Margaret Chelimo.

Kirwa has said athletes who do not undergo at least three mandatory out-of-competition doping tests before the event could be pulled out of the team.

“We haven’t heard from the athletes since the national trials and we don’t know where they are and their state. AK must take decisive action against them,” said Kirwa.

Kenya ruled the roost at the 2015 Beijing World Championships, winning seven gold medals, and will have five of the seven champions parading in London as it seeks to firm its grip at the top of the rankings.

With a team of over 50 athletes, Kenya hopes it will have the strength to weather the storm from giants USA, China and Germany for the championships which starts on August 4.

The country will have a quality team in the relay and sprints races to supplement on the medals from the middle and long distance events.

“We have medal prospects in relays and the field events. Our javelin athlete Julius Yego is doing well and we hope we can compete well in 400m and the relays,” said Kirwa.

Kenya sent a team of 49 athletes to the 2013 Championships in Moscow and 60 athletes in Beijing.

However, injury and stiff competition have forced the country to cut down its team to just 51 for London games.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Kenya’s Bett to miss London World Championships

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s hopes at the London World Championships were dealt a blow on Tuesday after world 400m hurdles champion Nicholas Bett pulled out with a recurrent right leg injury.

Bett will join the list of athletes who will not defend their titles from Beijing 2015 including Jamaican Usain Bolt in the 200 metres, Ashton Eaton in decathlon, Matej Toth in 50 km walk.

And the absentees in women’s events, include Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100m, Vivian Cheruiyot in the 10,000m, Christina Schwanitz in shot put, Jessica Ennis-Hill in heptahtlon and Liu Hong in 20km walk. The World Championships is due from Aug. 4 to 13 in London.

Bett’s manager, Jukka Harkonen confirmed that his athlete will give the championships a bye, saying a serious stress fracture on his fibula bone is to blame.

Bett is experiencing sharp pain in his right leg and this was amplified during the Diamond League in Doha on May 5.

“The pain came again after the Shanghai meeting on May 13 and he started treatment in Nairobi,” said Harkonen. “We advised him to take leave, but he will not recover in time for the championships.”

An MRI scan in Nairobi cleared Bett of any injury, but failed to explain the pains, which forced his manager to fly him to Lahti, Finland for further check-up and treatment.

“We examined Bett on June 8 and it was discovered that Bett had a serious stress fracture,” explained Harkonen.

Bett would start two weeks of full rest and then another four weeks of pool work before starting easy jogging after six weeks.

He missed the National Championships and Trials on June 23-23 in Nairobi. Bett is expected to resume training next month and hopes to make it to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“It’s disappointing since my main target was to defend my title,” said Bett in Nairobi. “I will be back in good health and stronger for the Commonwealth Games.”

Head coach Julius Kirwa said Bett’s injury is a blow to Kenya’s chances at the London World Championships but believes his void will be filled by his brother Haron Koech, who is part of the Kenya team.

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Hopes high as Kenya seeks to reclaim gold in men’s marathon at London worlds

NAIROBI  (Xinhua) -- Just a week before heading to London for the World Championships, Kenya’s men’s marathon team is confident it will stand the test and claim victory in the longest and toughest competition.

It will be the first time that Kenya will be entrusting the huge task to face the world to a batch of young athletes, who are yet to affirm their prowess repeatedly on the global stage in big city marathon races.

With top names opting to chase money in Berlin or Chicago, the Kenya team members will relish the chance to take on the world and stake their claim to silverware that is hard to come by in a choking field of elite marathoners.

Boston Marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui, Gideon Kipketer, the Tokyo Marathon silver medalist, and London marathon champion Daniel Wanjiru have wound down their training in Eldoret and will move to Nairobi briefly before heading to London.

“Training has gone down well. We are in the last stages here winding down on areas that need to be worked on. The real hard training is done and am happy nobody has been forced out with an injury,” said Kirui.

The challenge ahead is tough after world record holders Wilson Kipsang and Eliud Kipchoge, the Olympic champion, withdrew from the team.

Kenyans have done well in this competition save for little interruption from Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich who won in Moscow.

Kenya missed out on medals at the Beijing World Championships with Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie claiming gold ahead of Yemane Tsegaye of Ethiopia and Uganda’s Munyo Solomon Mutai.

The top Kenyan was Mark Korir who finished in position 22 with Kiprotich, who was then defending champion, settling for sixth place. Now the Kenya’s young team is keen to make amends in London.

The Kenyans are keen to run as a team in London despite the fact that the trio has no experience of competing at the world championships.

“For the three of us, we will be running as new athletes in the championships but that will not lower our morale to perform better. We will help each other and make sure we all get into the medal bracket if possible,” said Kirui.

The women’s team has more experience in World Championships competition with Edna Kiplagat having won twice and Helah Kiprop having struck silver at the last championships in Beijing.

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Kenyan Elijah Kimutai to scour new targets in triple jump at London worlds

NAIROBI  (Xinhua) -- Kenya team to the global Championships always has a lone wolf in the pack and at the London World Championships Elijah Kimitei will be the unknown assassin in the triple jump competition.

Like his mentors Olympic javelin champion Julius Yego and Nicholas Bett (400m hurdles), Kimitei hopes he will be strong enough to challenge for the medals on his first shot at the big championships. However, he is only contending with the fact that he has made the team to London.

“It is a new experience for me. I will be putting in my best, though I am aware it may not be enough to make the cut to the second round, but it clears a big hurdle in my ambition to become a world champion,” said Kimitei.

Kenya has entered a team of 51 athletes to the championships, which start on August 4 and hope they will be strong enough to defend the overall title they won in Beijing back in 2015.

Kimitei, who has remained unbeaten in local competition since 2010 was confident, saying time is ripe for Kenya to also make a mark in the jumps.

However, he is alive he will be up against some of the best jumpers including USA’s 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion Christian Taylor and 2013 world champion Teddy Tamgho from France.

“It has been my dream to meet them and compete against them,” said Kimitei. “I will not drop my guard and must let my body fly.”

The 31-year-old has represented Kenya in four Africa Championships and the Commonwealth Games. But in London he hopes to gain new height. Distance and not time will tell how far he can jump.

           

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