Monday, June 29, 2009

World champ Ndereba won’t race in Berlin

Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba crosses the finish line to win the marathon at the 11th IAAF World Athletics Championship in Osaka, Japan, on September 2, 2007. The two-time world champion said she will not be defending her title at the 12th edition of the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in August. Photo/REUTERS

Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba crosses the finish line to win the marathon at the 11th IAAF World Athletics Championship in Osaka, Japan, on September 2, 2007. The two-time world champion said she will not be defending her title at the 12th edition of the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in August. Photo/REUTERS 

By CHRIS MUSUMBA

Two-time world marathon champion Catherine Ndereba will not be defending her title during this year’s World Athletics Championship in Berlin, Germany, in August.

Ndereba expressed doubts, saying she will not be ready for the gruelling 42km race having just shaken off a nagging sore toe which she aggravated while running at the London Marathon in April.

“I went for medical check-up in the United States and it all went well. But I do not think I will be ready for Berlin. I want to leave it to the other young, upcoming athletes,” she said.

The Olympic Marathon silver medallist however noted that Kenya still has huge potential to retain the overall gold medal in Berlin.

“This team is very strong. They are capable of beating anyone and I will support them. Kenya has always had potential, and my withdrawal will not alter anything,” she said.

Ndereba showed class at the weekend when she won the Lewa Half-Marathon race. She won gold at the Paris Marathon in 2003, silver in Helsinki two years later, and reclaimed the title in Osaka in 2007.

Already, national athletics head coach Julius Kirwa has called up Japan-based Julia Muraga Mumbi to replace Ndereba. Mumbi, fifth in Paris (2:29:10), will be joining Helena Kiprop, Martha Komu, Risper Kimaiyo Jemeli and Irene Limika, who have already confirmed their availability.

Automatic squad

Besides Ndereba, Boston Marathon champion Salina Kosgei and Singapore Marathon winner Edith Masai, who were named on the reserve bench, are also out of the team.

“Kosgei said she will not be ready while Masai is battling a tendon injury. We will wait for her and see how it goes, but we already have out automatic squad of five,” Kirwa said.

At the same time, Lineth Chepkurui’s coach Dieter Hogen wants her athlete run in low altitude to secure the required category ‘A’ qualifying time of 31:45.00 in UK next week.

Chepkurui, a road runner, clocked 32:47.1 in her debut on the track at the Armed Forces championships in May 22. She followed it up with a solid run at the national athletics trials, finishing second to Linet Masai (32:49.3) to secure the automatic berth to Berlin.

However, her time of 32:57.3 was more than a second off the mark.

“My coach told me I will run on July 11 and I have high hopes of making the time to clear any obstacles in my mission to represent Kenya in my first track competition,” she said.

The Kenyan captain to the World Cross Country championship in Jordan, showed her true fighting spirit during the trials, catching the eye of coach Kirwa who wants the top three to make the Berlin team.

She defied a sore ankle, from which she says she has recovered, to battle to a second automatic slot, edging out Japan-based Philes Ongori 33:04.1 to third.

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