Wednesday, April 24, 2013

‘Eldoret Express’ revs up for Penn State Relays race

By COPPERFIELD LAGAT [email protected]

World 800 meters bronze medallist, Janeth Jepkosgei is among the athletes selected to represent Kenya at the Penn State Relays that will be held on Friday and Saturday at Franklin Field, University of Pennsylvania.

Former Olympics 1,500 meters champion Nancy Lagat, World Indoor 3,000 meters winner Hellen Obiri, and Winnie Chebet complete the formidable Kenya women team in the 4 by 800 meters race.

The 4 by 400 meters men’s relay team features Alfas Kisogon, Boniface Mwerere, Vincent Kosgei and Kennedy Chepsiror, while world half marathon bronze winner John Mwangangi, Olympic Games 800 meters bronze medallist Timothy Kitum, Vincent Cheruiyot the Commonwealth Youth games 1,500 meters champion will be in team line up for the 4 by 1,500 meters.

Nairobi Region Athletics Kenya chairman, Barnabas Korir said the teams were strong and a good performance would stand the athletes in good stead ahead of Moscow’s World championships national selections.

“We have faith in the team because it was selected based on performance. The athletes will also have a big morale since they know they have to give a good account to book slots for World Championships,” said Korir.

Jepkosgei, who warmly welcomed Hamburg marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge at Eldoret Airport while leaving for Nairobi on Tuesday, said she was confident of doing well at the event.

The athlete, also known as Eldoret Express  said  her persistent training at the high altitude Kapsabet and Nandi Hills will make her body adjust well to the winter conditions in the US.

Jepkosgei, 29, won gold in the world championships in Osaka, where she registered her PB of 1.56.04 minutes and is expected to battle it out in the 4 by 800 meters relays.

Jepkosgei honed her skills in athletics at the famous Sing’ore Girls and traces her specialty race to her father Michael Busienei, who was also an accomplished 800 meters runner.

The athlete was born in Nandi County’s Kabirirsang village where 800 meters exponents Wilfred Bungei and Wilson Kipketer also trace their roots.

Juggle training

While preparing for the Penn Relays, Jepkosgei has had to juggle between team lessons served in Eldoret until recently and personal work-outs under her coach Claudio Barardeli.

Her coach, Claudio is upbeat her student will give her best.

“She is good to go. I advised her to race like she did in Daegu. She will anchor the race and she has to watch her finish pace because she may find herself needing to close the gap in case she receives the stick late.

“I believe she will run a good leg,” Barardeli said.

Jepkosgei, who started her running career while at Kapsumbeiyo primary, won the National Secondary School Championships in heptathlon while in Form One student after joining Sing’ore Girls in 1998. The 2006 sportswoman of the year ran 400 meters hurdles in secondary school but later switched to 800 meters where she has cut a fair slice of victories in local and international meets.

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