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Kiplagat leads Kenya’s charge at Kolkata 25km road race in India

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat dream of winning the Kolkata 25km road race in 2017 were dashed by injury, but she returns to the Indian city in top form and keen to wrest the gold medal.

Speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday, Kiplagat, 31, says the muscle injury, which she picked up during the Bogota Half Marathon in 2017, ruined her plans and she had to sit out of competition for one year.

Her first competition was six weeks ago at the Chicago Marathon, where she finished fourth clocking two hours, 26 minutes and eight seconds.

But she hopes her rusty form has been polished as she focuses on winning her first race in 2019 in Kolkata.

Though this will be the first time Kiplagat will be running in Kolkata, it will be the third time in the country after she twice won the Delhi Half Marathon.

“I believe I’m the best in the line-up and I will be going for the top prize. If anyone had doubts about my fitness, my performance in Chicago in October vindicated me. I have my eyes on the prize to win in Kolkata,” said Kiplagat Tuesday in Nairobi.

Twelve months ago, Kiplagat was signed up and intending to compete in the race but was injured shortly before in the Chicago Marathon and was not fit enough to be on the start line in Kolkata. But she if focused on exorcising that ghost and win on return to India.

“As usual I will not be looking at those who will be at the race but at my own strength and fitness because I always enter the race believing I am the best,” she says.

Kiplagat will be up against Ethiopia’s Degitu Azimeraw, who will be putting her title on the line. Azimeraw last year set a surprise course record of 1:26:01 in the only IAAF Label race in the 25km distance.

Kiplagat however says apart from running in Kolkata and another early marathon in 2019, she has no plans for the World Championships in October 2019 in Doha, Qatar.

“I know there is the World Championships, but what is important for me is to return to the winner’s podium and set up a few wins before thinking of the global competition. Kenya has many runners and if I will be called upon, then we will discuss it then,” she adds.

In the men’s race, another Kenyan Eric Kiptanui will also be returning to action after missing three months of training due to an ankle injury.

The Kenyan was to compete in Delhi in October and Copenhagen in September, but had to shelve those plans.

“It was a blow to my preparations because I had hoped to continue my big performance,” said Kiptanui.

“I have taken time out to treat the injury and it has responded well. Now it has healed and I am ready to pick up from where I left off,” he added.

Kiptanui will be up against Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese, Tanzanian marathon record holder Augustino Sulle, who was third in this race last year.



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