Athletes shift focus on Rio after Cardiff glory

Tuesday March 29 2016

Team manager John Wachira (left) poses for a photo with Kenyan athletes who competed in the 2016 World Half Marathon on Saturday in Cardiff. Wachira and coaches Catherine Ndereba (right) and Kennedy Tanui (second, right) arrived with the team from Cardiff on March 28, 2016.  PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Team manager John Wachira (left) poses for a photo with Kenyan athletes who competed in the 2016 World Half Marathon on Saturday in Cardiff. Wachira and coaches Catherine Ndereba (right) and Kennedy Tanui (second, right) arrived with the team from Cardiff on March 28, 2016. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By AYUMBA AYODI
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Members of the Team Kenya from the World Half Marathon in Cardiff now want to shift their dominance to the Rio Olympic Games this August in Brazil.

Peris Jepchirchir, a surprise winner of women’s race in Cardiff, silver medallist Cynthia Limo and Mary Wacera who won bronze have said they will take a shot at 10,000 metres during the national trials for the Rio Olympics.

“It took faith, self-belief, courage and great team work to win the world title,” Jepchirchir, 22, said. “I believe I can not only make it to the Olympics but I can also give Kenya the elusive gold medal.”

Jepchirchir, who is intending to return to track since High School in 2012, will warm up for the Olympic trials with the Yangzhou Half Marathon in China in April and Ottawa Road Race in May in Canada. Limo said she is inspired to make Team Kenya for Rio Olympics and win her second silverware after her silver exploits in Cardiff while Wacera, who won silver during the 2014 World Half before settling for bronze in Cardiff, said nothing will distract her from making it to Rio.

“Kenya has the potential to win the elusive Olympic gold in 10,000m only if we train well and embrace team work just like we did in Cardiff,” said Wacera, who will compete in New York City 10km race in May before focusing on trials. “It’s my dream to make it to the Olympics for the first time, God willing.”

“Anything is now possible but first things first, I need to win at the national trials,” said Limo. 

Already, Kamworor, who is the World 10,000m silver medallist, has hinted at doubling for the first time in 5,000m and 10,000m at the national trials for the Olympics. Karoki, too, has set his sights on qualifying in 10,000m.

JUBILATION FROM PATIENT CROWD

The athletes were speaking on Monday at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon arrival from Cardiff. At hand to receive the team was Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei and his deputies Paul Mutwii and Jinaro Kibet.

Business came to a temporary halt when Jepchirchir and Limo led the team out of the arrival lounge to much jubilation from the patient crowd that had waited for long.

Kamworor, who retained his men’s title and Karoki remained in Europe for other engagements.

Team Kenya coach Catherine Ndereba said Kamworor has flown to the Netherlands to seek medical attention after he injured his knees on Saturday in Cardiff.

On the other hand, Karoki was left in England for a session with his kit sponsor, Nike.

Ndereba said discipline, commitment, hard work and courage enabled his charges stage weather awful conditions for a breathtaking show in Cardiff.

Besides a clean sweep of the podium places in women’s races and a 1-2 finish in men’s, Kenya claimed both the women and men’s team titles.

“It’s simple…prayer answered and we give all the glory back to god,” Ndereba said. “The weather was not conducive and we all know what happened to Kamworor but the grace of God prevailed.”

Speaking about Kamworor’s fall, Ndereba, who was handling the national team for the first time said as a runner once must have a bid heart.

“A heart of a champion never dies and that is what Kamworor exhibited,” said Ndereba.