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Kenyan coach faces difficult task with Commonwealth Games

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Newly appointed Kenya team coach Japheth Kemei said the country must change its focus and preparations if they are to continue to dominate in middle and long distances races.

Kemei has his work cut out as he takes over Julius Kirwa, who led Kenya to successful performances in World Championships in London and Beijing.

"It is a role that requires cooperation and support. I have good rapport with the athletes and the management must support us," he said on Tuesday.

Kemei’s first task will be to lead Kenya team to the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Gold Coast, Australia from April 4-15.

Athletics Kenya senior vice president Paul Mutwii said Kenya must improve its performance in the club games, which are only open to athletes from former British colonies.

Kenya won 23 medals at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 - 10 gold, 10 silver and three bronze - to top the athletics medal standings.

Now Kemei must improve on this tally with a squad of 57 athletes.

Kemei will have top stars like David Rudisha, the Olympic 800m champion, javelin star Julius Yego, World 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi in Gold Coast.

The marathon teams for the Commonwealth Games will be confirmed on Tuesday along with Kenya’s teams for the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia in March.

"There are still a few details we are waiting for on some athletes," said Mutwii. "We will name the final team to Commonwealth Games in a week’s time."

Kenya’s Ondoro leads in title defense at the Houston Marathon

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Dominic Ondoro will put his marathon title up for grabs when he lines up on the streets of Houston on Jan 14.

Ondoro has savored a successful bid after two losses and is under pressure to prove his fitness against a strong challenge from Ethiopian runners.

"I love running in Houston and have done all that is required in training.

"But running and winning are not the same and when we line up on Jan. 14.

"Past form will count for nothing, but the day’ s form will be what matters and the weather," he said on Tuesday.

Last year, against all odds, Ondoro emerged victorious having finished in fourth and fifth place in 2017 and 2016.

Running in a damp and foggy weather the Kenyan posted a fast time of 2:12:05 to become the first Kenyan to prevail since David Cheruiyot won Houston for a third time in 2008.

With the allure of making Kenya team for the Commonwealth Games still glowing, Ondoro must scheme how best to beat Ethiopians Bazu Worku (2:05:25) and Yitayal Atnafu (2:07:21).

In the women’s race, New York Marathon third-placer Mamitu Daska stands out as the fastest in a pack of elite runners with a time of 2:21:59, which she claimed in winning in Houston back in 2011.

The Ethiopian will face a strong challenge from Ethiopian teammates Abebech Afework (2:23:33), Biruktayit Degefa (2:23:51) and Belaynesh Oljira (2:24:21).



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