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Kerio faces stiff Ethiopia challenge in
Kosice Peace Marathon in Slovakia

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Champions Reuben Kiprop Kerio and Alice Kibor will lead Kenya’s team to this year’s Kosice Peace Marathon in Slovakia on Oct. 7.

Founded in 1924, the Kosice event is Europe’s oldest marathon, this year celebrating its 95th edition.

The course records - Lawrence Kimaiyo’s 2:07:01 men’s mark set in 2012 and Ashete Bekere Dido’s 2:27:47 women’s standard set in 2013 - may not be under imminent threat, but the solid fields attracted to this eastern Slovak city promise strong head-to-head battles.

Kerio will be keen to improve his best time and clinch the course record.

Speaking in Eldoret, Kerio said he has gone through three months of training without any injury concerns or any other problems and believes he will be in peak form as he defends his title.

“It will always be hard as a champion to defend your crown,” he said Wednesday. “But that is why we train hard and it will be down to my own tactics and strength to carry me through the distance and hopeful retain my title.”

Kerio, 24, holds a best time of 2:08:12, which he attained in 2017 in winning the marathon.

He will be accompanied by compatriot Nicholas Kipchirchir Korir, who will be making his first run in the full marathon distance. Korir holds a best time of 59:50 in the half marathon distance.

Ethiopia will be represented by Birhanu Bekele (2:09:41). Since its inception just five men have managed to secure back-to-back wins in Kosice. The last man to achieve the feat was David Kariuki winning in 2001 and 2002 winner.

“I know what I can do and that is why I believe in myself. I want to win the race again,” said Kerio.

On the women side, Kenya’s Alice Kibor, third at the Rome Marathon this year with best time of 2:28:19 will be the athlete to beat at least owing to her fast time.

She will be up against Ethiopian Mestawot Tadesse (2:31:38). Kenyan Emily Ngetich will have the role to pace the elite field.

Belarus Natalya Savina has 2:33:50 from European Championships marathon where she finished in position 12 while the top Slovak in the lineup will be Tibor Sahajda (2:18:44) from last Kosice performance. 



Kenya’s top tennis player Okutoyi to compete at Tunisia Masters

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya Open senior women’s champion Angela Okutoyi will face stiff test as she makes her debut at the Tunisia Masters, which will be held in Monastir City on Oct. 1-7.

The teenage champion became the youngest winner at Kenya’s premier tennis competition last week when she won the Kenya Open.

“It was a good preparation for the masters when I won the Kenya Open. It has given me confidence that I can go to bigger and better tournaments in the future,” said Okutoyi Wednesday.

The North Africa competition will be one of the many on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) women circuit.

Okutoyi will be using the tournament in Tunisia as part of her preparations ahead of next year’s Davis Cup.

Organizers of the Davis Cup will pit 12 seeded nations against 12 unseeded nations as 24 teams discover their opponents for the 2019 qualifiers, taking place in Feb. 1-2.

The 12 successful nations in February will join Croatia, France, Spain and USA plus two wild card nominees, who secured their places in the 2019 Davis Cup finals. The wild card nominees are Argentina and Britain.

If a nation is awarded a wild card, their place in the qualifiers will be taken by the next-highest ranked nation.

If a seeded nation is given a wild card, the next-highest ranked nation will be seeded in the 2019 qualifiers.


Kenyan teams eye basketball title in Tanzania

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Four basketball teams will represent Kenya at this year’s Africa Zone Five Club Championships, which will be held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from Sept. 30 to Oct. 10.

A total of 20 teams have confirmed participation in the championships. The two winning teams will advance to the Champions Cup of Africa.

The Africa Champions Cup is the premier men’s and women’s club competition on the continent. Clubs from Angola have dominated and this golden thread shows no sign of unraveling after Petro Atletico de Luanda were crowned the 2015 champions.

However, on the zonal front, Kenya’s women’s champions KPA will look to retain the title for the third year in a row after wins in Kampala and Dar es Salaam in 2016-17.

However, the men’s team finished third in last year’s tournament losing to eventual winners City Oilers of Uganda in Kampala.

Kenyan champion KPA men’s and women’s teams alongside Equity Bank and Strathmore Blades will carry the country’s flag in the tournament.

KPA Men’s team head coach Sammy Kiki said here Wednesday that his team is ready for the challenge.

“We have prepared for competition. We are training and ready for the championship and our main target is to go flat out for the title. Last year, we came close but were disappointed to finish third. But this time round, I believe we will win it,” said Kiki.

The Africa Zone Five is open to league champions clubs from Kenya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Rwanda and Burundi.

KPA women’s team coach Anthony Ojukwu said the team is in good form following thorough drills.

“The team is jelling well and they have a stronger mentality. Our aim is to defend the title and continue dominating the region,” he said.

The Kenya teams are due to jet out for Dar es Salaam on Friday. 



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