Sumgong banks on team spirit to deliver marathon gold

Friday July 29 2016

London marathon champion Jemimah Sumgong during a training session on the Moiben road, in Uasin Gishu County on July 29, 2016, in readiness for the Olympic Games. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |

London marathon champion Jemimah Sumgong during a training session on the Moiben road, in Uasin Gishu County on July 29, 2016, in readiness for the Olympic Games. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BENARD ROTICH
More by this Author

London Marathon champion Jemimah Sumgong has expressed her joy at being named in the Kenyan marathon team to the 2016 Olympic Games.

Sumgong will team up with Paris Marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho and Tokyo Marathon champion and World silver medallist Hela Kiprop in Rio de Janeiro against Ethiopians, led by Tiki Gelana.

“I am happy to have been named in the marathon team that will represent Kenya in the Olympics,” she said.

“I was privileged to represent Kenya last year in the World Championships but I didn’t win any medal but this year I’m working hard to get a medal,” Sumgong said on Friday in Eldoret.

The athlete, who hails and train in Nandi County, said the only sure way to bring home medals is to run as a team in Rio.

“It’s a tough race since everybody wants to win but we will run as one team so that we beat our competitors. We want to bring home all the medals, but we have to put our best, foot forward,” said Sumgong, who is coached by her husband Noah Talam.

Kenya has never won a gold medal in the women’s marathon since the 42km event made its debut at the Olympic Games in 1984.

Joyce Jepchumba was the first Kenyan athlete to win a bronze medal in Sydney, Australia in 2000 before Catherine Ndereba winning a silver medal in in Athens, Greece in 2004.

More silver medals were to follow when Catherine Ndereba took second position in Beijing, China in 2008 while Prisca Jeptoo also took second position in London Olympic Games in 2012.

Sumgong surprised many in the London Marathon race by beating big names and former winners in April and that led to her being named in the marathon team and she says her tricks helped her win.

"I have been taking second position for a very long time but my win in London Marathon gave me a new beginning thanks to my coach who gave me new tricks that helped me. This time round my program changed but I know I will do well,” said the champion.

The team is eager to strip the title from Ethiopians held by Tiki Gelana which she won by recording a time of 2:23:07.

The team has been camping in Kaptagat in a bid to sharpen their skills and finalise training before heading to Rio.