Kenyan athletes jostle for slots for Moscow Summer World Championships

2013-01-21 18:47:10 GMT2013-01-22 02:47:10(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Kimathi Kamau

NAIROBI, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Its only January but competition for slots in the Kenyan women's marathon team for the Moscow Summer World Championships is already shaping up.

Over the weekend, titleholder, Edna Kiplagat and bronze medallist, Sharon Sherop stated their intent after excelling at the Kenya Police and Defence Forces cross country championships.

Kiplagat, beaten to runner-up in the women's 8km senior race at the Police event by fellow marathoner Lucy Kabuu, declared she was targeting a strong performance at the London Marathon to break into the national team.

"I had not recovered fully from the knee injury I suffered in Daegu during the London Olympics but now that is behind me. Being a world champion is not guarantee to make the Kenyan team and I'm looking forward to doing well in London," Kiplagat who finished 20th in London added.

The athlete who led the historical clean sweep in South Korea that saw Olympics silver winner, Priscah Jeptoo take the second medal ahead of Cherop was a runner-up in London last year.

Having finished fifth at the same race, national marathon record holder, Kabuu also set her sights on the overseas spring marathon season having failed to nail a place in Kenya's Olympic team despite clocking the impressive 2:19:34 in Dubai on her debut over the distance.

"I have not yet confirmed whether I will compete in London but my training has been focused on making the World Championships team. It was disappointing to miss London having ran so well but that is behind me now," Kabuu who held on for her Police Cross title explained.

Kabuu and Kiplagat will thus seek to be excused from the Police team for the February 16 National Championships where the Kenyan team for the March 24 World Cross in Bydgoszcz, Poland will be selected.

In Thika where the Defence Forces meet was held, Cherop who ceded her senior women 8km title to double African titleholder, Gladys Cherono, announced she would also not seek a slot in her institution's squad for the nationals.

"I will be competing at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon on Feb. 15 which is a day before the championships and I will ask my superiors to excuse me from the team."

"My aim is to first defend my Boston title on April 15 and I hope that will convince selectors to choose me for the World Championships. Last year, I won Boston and I was not selected but I believe I can make the Moscow team and if that happens, I will be aiming for a bigger medal than bronze," Cherop who finished seventh at the Forces race outlined.

Others with a shout at making the Moscow team include reigning London winner and Olympic bronze medallist, Mary Keitany and Jeptoo who are yet to compete this season.

In Daegu, Kiplagat became the second Kenyan woman to win the world title after former two-time champion, Catherine Ndereba.

Last season, Keitany became the first female athlete from the country to bag the 500,000 U.S. dollars World Marathon Majors Series jackpot underlining the ascendancy of the nation's female ultimate distance runners.

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