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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenyan steeplechaser eyes gold medal at Africa Championships

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The 3,000m steeplechase world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech has thrown down the gauntlet as she focuses on winning gold for Kenya at the Africa Championships, in Asaba, Nigeria.

Chepkoech, 27, said her world class performance in Monaco last week was no fluke and she will be ready to have another fast run in Asaba in the quest for a slot in the Africa team heading to the IAAF Continental Cup in the Czech Republic in September.

“Me under pressure? Not true. I have shown consistency this season and I have no doubts I will deliver gold for Kenya in the Africa Championships,” Chepkoech said on Thursday in Nairobi.

Chepkoech was among the 20 athletes who returned to a training camp on Tuesday to focus on polishing their skills ahead of the continental championships.

Head coach Stephen Mwaniki said he has no more concerns as his 65-member team is injury free as they wind up their preparation ahead of their departure on Monday.

“We have our job cut out [for us]. The focus is on us beating our previous performance in Durban, South Africa in 2016. We have a strong team, some elite runners coming [back] from injury, keen to rediscover their groove. That will spur us [on] to do better beyond the middle and long distance races,” said Mwaniki.

Chepkoech is basking in the glory of her strong performances this season having won in Shanghai, Rome and Monaco.

She clocked a world record time of 8:44:32 slicing eight seconds off Bahraini Ruth Jebet’s time of 8:52.78.

“I knew I could run well in Monaco and expected to break the world record. But not with a wide margin of eight seconds,” adds Chepkoech. “I am hopeful of a good performance in Nigeria and I am under no pressure to deliver. It is my own resolution to do well and grow my career.”

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EARLIER REPORT:

Kenya’s Olympic javelin medalist Yego overcomes injury crisis

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan Olympic javelin silver medalist Julius Yego has thrown down the gauntlet and warned his rivals he is fully recovered and will be firing on all cylinders at the Africa Athletics Championships.

Speaking to Xinhua in Nairobi on Tuesday, Yego believes he will reclaim the Africa title, which he lost in Durban, South Africa in 2016. The African Senior Athletics Championships will be held in Asaba, Nigeria from Aug 1-5.

Kenya’s team of 65 athletes is due to leave for Nigeria on Saturday and Yego has put up his hand up to be counted as a prospective gold medalist.

“It has been a nightmare period for me ever since I injured myself at the Rio Olympics. My groin and ankle have been troubling me. But I think it is going away. I have really worked hard with the physiotherapist and I feel good. It has been good for the last six months and what I need is to regain my form,” said Yego on Tuesday in Nairobi.

Yego holds a national record of 92.72m, which he registered in 2015 when won gold at the World Championships in Beijing’s Birds Nest stadium.

He went on to win silver at the Rio Olympics with one throw before injuring his groin. The loss of form has seen Yego lose his world title without a fight in London last year and he has struggled to throw over 80 meters.

This season, Yego’s best result has been 80.91m, which he posted at the national championships in Nairobi. He has had training camps in Finland and the Czech Republic and believes he is ready for Africa contest.

“It is now much better and I will use the Africa Championship to rediscover my form and gain some winning mentality,” he said.

However, Yego feels Kenya’s athletics officials are not doing enough to support his cause as he will have to travel to Nigeria without his coach.

“I have always trained with my coach and he is always an inspiration at major championships. But I will not have his guidance in Nigeria and that is not good. I missed him at the Commonwealth Games and again it will happen at continental level,” he said.

The Africa Championships will be used to select the team that will represent the continent at the IAAF Continental Cup to be held in the Czech Republic in September.

Only the best two athletes in each discipline will make the Africa team and Yego believes he will get his chance and prove to the world he is back to his best.

             

 

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