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Kenyan Peris Jepchirchir returns from maternity
leave and eyes world half marathon record

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Former world half marathon record holder Peris Jepchirchir said Friday that she intends to break the women’s full marathon record soon.

Jepchirchir, 27, who is returning to action after almost two years of maternity leave, confirmed her first race outside Kenya will be at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on February 9.

"I target to run a big city marathon in April.

"I have already made my debut in Kisumu International marathon back in 2013, and it was a slow time," she said in Eldoret.

"However, after my maternity leave, I believe I showed the world my ability when I was third at the Kass International Marathon in Eldoret."

Her time of 2:39:16 in the Kass International Marathon was almost nine minutes from the debut time of 2:47:33, which she set in Kisumu back in 2013.

Jepchirchir only enjoyed the world half marathon record of 65 minutes and six seconds for one month before Joyciline Jepkosgei improved the mark to 64:52 at last year’s Prague Half Marathon in April.

Six months later, Jepkosgei improved on the mark to 64:51 at the Valencia Half Marathon in October.

But now Jepchirchir said she is going for the bigger goal to reclaim her record and if she excels in marathon she believes compatriot Mary Keitany’s women marathon mark of 2:17:42 is beatable.

"To break the record is a dream I always cherish.

"I have been there before," added Jepchirchir.

However, she may face one of the hardest task in her comeback in Dubai where Jepkosgei is expected to line up alongside defending champion Fancy Chemutai.

Her coach Davis Ng’eno believes Jepchirchir will live her dream and reclaim the world record. However, he did not confirm if her athlete will be battling out for a slot in the Kenya team, to the World Championships in Doha, Qatar later in the year.

"We are building slowly. It is important we take each race at a time and see how the season pans out," he said.

"She will be running in April in a marathon, which we are yet to finalize a deal."


Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot puts title on line in defense of London Marathon

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The defending champion Vivian Cheruiyot will return to London Marathon on April 28 and said she is up to the task.

Cheruiyot, who is also the reigning Olympic 5,000m champion, will compete against New York Marathon champion Mary Keitany, winner of Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono, and Chicago champion Brigid Kosgei.

Cheruiyot is the runner-up behind world marathon record holder Keitany at last November’s New York Marathon.

In London in April 2018, Cheruiyot beat Keitany to fourth with Kosgei settling for silver medal.

Cheruiyot, whose personal best stands at 2:18:31 also won Frankfurt Marathon on her debut in 2017, and was fourth in London.

"It was a great moment for me winning last year’s London Marathon and I am very much looking forward to returning in April.

"The line-up for this year’s race is, once again, incredibly strong so I know I will need to be at my very best to repeat last year’s victory but it is a challenge that I’m really looking forward to.

"I will be ready," Cheruiyot said on Saturday in Nairobi.

Also confirmed to run are the Ethiopian trio of Tirunesh Dibaba, the three-time Olympic champion on the track and third fastest woman of all time, who finished second in London and won Chicago in 2017.

There is also Tadelech Bekele, who finished third in London last year, and 21-year-old Roza Dereje, second in Chicago and winner of the Dubai Marathon in 2018.

Cherono, Kosgei and Keitany top the current World Marathon Majors Series XII rankings with 25 points apiece from their wins in Berlin, Chicago and New York.

Dereje and Cheruiyot are on 16 points apiece following their second places in Chicago and New York respectively.

The Series XII title could be decided in London.

The World Marathon Majors series adds up points for the best finishes in the world’s six best marathons.

Series XII started at the last year’s Berlin marathon and will finish at the same race in Sept.

It will, however, have stops in Chicago, New York, Tokyo, Boston and London.

World half marathon record holder Abraham Kiptum promises fast time in London

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- World half marathon record-holder Abraham Kiptum from Kenya has been confirmed for the London Marathon on April 26.

Kiptum was second in the Abu Dhabi Marathon in December in 2:04:16 but there are doubts about the length of the course.

He also won the Daegu Marathon in April in 2:06:29.

But the 29-year-old was not known until last year when he broke the world record for half marathon in Valencia.

His personal best time of 2:05:26, which he got in Amsterdam in 2017 when he clinched bronze was deemed not good enough for him to compete at last year’s Chicago Marathon.

It is after he was turned down that he went on to set a world record in Valencia.

Now he has got a nod to compete in one of the prestigious marathons in London.

"I always try to break the barriers and London is one step in helping me attain my goal.

"Pressure is not on me, because there are better runners in London.

"But I have my plan and I want to work hard in training," said Kiptum.

Kiptum could challenge Britain’s Sir Mo Farah, who last year finished third in London behind world record holder and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge and Shura Kitata.

There is also former world record holder Wilson Kipsang, the only athlete to have beaten Kipchoge since 2012.

But it will take something special to challenge Kipchoge’s invincibility in marathon, maybe Kiptum may prove to be that change.

Kiptum survived an accident in his native home when he was competing in Kabarak town to win a race.

A hit by a motorist almost ended his career, but he picked up the pieces and went on to win the race in July.

He went on to win in Valencia and Abu Dhabi to cement his name on the world map.

"I was in great pain but I’m happy I have managed to recover and improve my performance," he said.

Olympic champ Eliud Kipchoge makes Laureus list for best sportsman in 2018

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge said Friday that he is humbled after he was nominated for the coveted Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award.

"Amidst so much negativity in my country, it’s truly an inspiration to continue to shine a positive light on Kenya," Kipchoge said in Eldoret.

The winner of the Laureus World Sports Awards will be announced in Monaco on February 18 where the cream of global sport - past, present and future - will gather to honor the greatest sporting achievements of 2018 and celebrate the power of sport to change the world.

The award ceremony will celebrate the best of 2018 across eight individual and team categories, with the winners collecting a prized Laureus Statuette.

Laureus Sport for Good now supports over 150 projects in more than 40 countries, helping to change young lives for the better.

In 2012, Olympic champion Vivian Cheruiyot became the first Kenyan to win the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award.

They recognized her achievement for winning both the 5,000m and 10,000m gold medals at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in 2011.

New York women’s champ Mary Keitany leads Kenya charge at London Marathon

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Mary Keitany is looking to rewrite history when she lines up at the London Marathon on April 26, eyeing her fourth title in five appearances.

Keitany has won London Marathon titles and four New York City crowns, and will be keen to reassure her fans that last year’s race, which saw compatriot Vivian Cheruiyot clinch the winner’s medal, was merely a blip.

A quest to push harder for a fast time to challenge the all-time world record mark of 2:12:25 was to blame in last year’s London event, as she ended up slowing down in the final 10km to enable Cheruiyot move past her to win the title.

Keitany says she is keen to reclaim her crown in London in April.

"I will be back.

"I was disappointed not to defend my title last year.

"I will be running in London," Keitany said Friday in Iten.

"Last year I was feeling good but I paid the price of pushing too hard too early.

"I rushed at the beginning to suffer at the end.

"I was really tired at the finish."

The 37-year-old Kenyan is already the holder of the women-only marathon world record, which she set by winning the 2017 London Marathon in 2:17:01.

In doing so, Keitany beat Paula Radcliffe’s previous mark of 2:17:42.

"London has shown it has the course for world records to be broken.

"But my target is to run fast and win the race," she added.

Kenya’s Paul Tanui eyes gold at World Cross Country

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Paul Tanui targets to break the jinx and win the elusive gold medal in 2019 at the World Cross Country Championships.

The 28-year-old, hopes to make the Kenya team to the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark on March 30, returning to the competition for the first time since finishing second in Punta Umbria, Spain in 2011.

"I will not relent or give up despite failing to win gold medal for the last six years.

"I know I will finally crack it, be it at the next World Championships event in 2019 Qatar or the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games," said Tanui on Thursday.

On the track, Tanui, who is based in Japan, had his World Championships debut at 2011 Daegu where he finished ninth, won his first bronze in 2013 in Moscow before posting a similar result at the 2015 Beijing championships and two years ago in London.

He said he will not be going to gear up to road race as he has unfinished business in cross country and the track competitions.

"I will not move to road running soon as many would expect," said Tanui.

However, that can wait as he launched his campaign to make the Kenya team for the IAAF permitted International Cross-Country Race on Saturday in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Kenya’s trials for the World Cross Country Championships will be held in Eldoret in February before the team moves to residential training camp in Embu.

Kenya faces stiff challenge from Ethiopia, Uganda, Bahraini and United States in quest to hold firm the overall title of the competition.


Ex-boxer Robert Napunyi laments decline of Kenya’s boxing scene

NAIROBI, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- When the history of Kenya’s boxing is chronicled, the golden years between 1982 and 1994 shall receive a special mention.

That was when Kenya ruled the boxing scene and would march toe-to-toe with powerhouse opponents such as the United States, the former Soviet Union and Cuba.

It was during this era that Robert Napunyi won an Olympic gold medal at the 1988 Games in Seoul.

Kenya’s boxing squad was at its peak at this time, and the East African nation won boxing titles at the 1982, 1990 and 1994 Commonwealth Games, though the country has struggled to compete since.

"Presently, whenever Kenya competes at any international event, the best one can expect is a bronze medal or at most two if we are lucky," former boxer Thomas Wamburu told reporters.

Wamburu said the high boxing standards of the 1980s and 1990s were helped by the presence of boxing clubs in neighborhoods around Nairobi that nurtured youths who were inclined towards boxing.

The most outstanding were the Dallas Boxing Club and the Nakuru Boxing Club, each of which produced some of Kenya’s finest boxers to date.

Stephen Muchoki, gold medal winner in the light flyweight category during the 1974 Commonwealth Games, and Philip Waruinge, who won silver at the 1972 Olympics, belonged to Dallas and Nakuru respectively.

"The other reason for the high performance level then was the highly competitive league that featured several clubs owned by companies like Kenya Breweries, Posta, Kimbo and Kenya Railways.

These firms offered jobs to talented boxers, because having a boxing team was a source of pride," Wamburu said.

At present, the league only consists of clubs from the National Police Service, Kenya Prisons and Kenya Defense Forces, who compete among themselves and are devoid of other competition.

Omar Ahmed, who won gold in the heavyweight category at the 1987 All-Africa Games, said the standards of the game dropped progressively after that event, which was held in Nairobi.

"Kenya sent eight boxers into the finals during the event, who each won a gold medal.

"That was a proud moment to be Kenyan, especially with the cheering partisan crowd that almost brought the roof down," Ahmed said.


Rwanda to host regional club volleyball competition in Kigali

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Rwanda will host the first Zone Five club volleyball championships in Kigali from Feb 19-24 bringing together teams from East Africa region.

Ismail Chege, Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) fixture secretary, said here Thursday that the competition will attract teams from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Kenya has since selected four teams for the competition led by Kenya Defence Force, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Equity Bank and Mombasa Prison Warders.

"These clubs must confirm their participation with the organizers.

The four teams were selected based on their ranking. The competition will serve as part of their preparations ahead of the Africa Club Championships," Chege said.

This is the first zonal competition run by the African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB) in a season where it will also have qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games for both men’s and women’s teams.

KPA team manager Joel Kosgei was delighted his side was handed the slot in the regional competition to represent Kenya.

"Our welfare and management is working on it. We are waiting for the approval.

"This is a perfect chance for the team to play against top sides in the region and build on the experience," said Kosgei.



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