Monday, August 5, 2013

Kabuu fancies first-day Midas Touch at Grand Sports Arena

PHOTO | MOHAMMED AMIN Lucy Kabuu, of the Kenya women marathon team, trains at Kasarani on August 5, 2013.

PHOTO | MOHAMMED AMIN Lucy Kabuu, of the Kenya women marathon team, trains at Kasarani on August 5, 2013.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AYUMBA AYODI sayodi@ke.nationmedia.com

Lucy Kabuu’s determination and thirst for victory tells of the about the expectations of the Kenya women marathon team at the Athletics World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

While they could very well be harbouring a world beater in their midst, the women marathoners are leaving nothing to chance, and are bent on ‘sweeping the road’ for the rest in the 10,000m.

Kabuu, who holds one of the fastest ever times in the world, reigning World champion, Edna Kiplagat, Valentine Kipketer and Margaret Akai believe that victory on Saturday’s opening day of the championships should put them team’s gold hunt on the track for continuity.

“It’s not just for the fact that we are under pressure to retain the title; I believe victory will set the ambience for the rest. It’s important that, being the openers, we do just that,” said the 29-year-old Kabuu, adding that victory has been in the offing seeing as they’ve stayed in camp training for long.

Teamwork essential

However, Kabuu said while team work will be essential, the weather pattern on the day of competition will determine their collective success.

“We can only pray to God to give us good health and favourable weather so that we open the event in style for others,” said Kabuu upon completing her morning training at Kasarani before she was due to travel with the team for Moscow on Monday evening.

The runner was quick to advise her colleagues not to focus on the opponents they are going to meet in Moscow. “We should not have singular targets, but rather narrow it down to staging another podium sweep just like in 2011 Daegu,” said Kabuu. “It’s very possible, and am basing that assumption on the training we have received in Iten.”

The Kenyan women amazed the world when they became the first nation to stage a clean sweep of the podium places over the distance.  Kiplagat went for gold in 2:28:43, with reigning London Marathon champion, Priscah Jeptoo, and 2012 Chicago Marathon winner, Sharon Cherop, settling for silver and bronze in 2:29:00 and 2:29:14 respectively.

World of experience

Kabuu, who won gold in 10,000m and silver in 5,000m at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, reckons that she has got enough experience in road races, having competed in three marathon races to set the ninth fastest time ever in the world by finishing second at the 2012 Dubai Marathon in 2:19:34 on her debut.

She finished fifth, in 2:23.12, at the 2012 London Marathon in a race won by Mary Keitany in a third-fastest time ever and national record of 2:18:37. Paula Radckliffe of Britain holds the world-record time of 2:15:25 from her victory in 2003 London Marathon.

Kabuu also claimed third place at the 2012 Chicago Marathon in 2:22:41, and has the second-fastest time in half marathon after she won the 2013 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon with personal best of 66:09, 19 seconds off Keitany’s world record of 65:50.

The athlete won the 2010 Commonwealth Games 10,000m gold and silver in 5,000, she took a break occasioned by an injured Achilles and pregnancy.

Married to fellow athlete, Josephat Maina, who doubles as her coach, she re-emerged with victory at the 2011 Delhi Half Marathon in a personal best of 1:07:04, setting the stage for her marathon debut at 2012 Dubai.

She completed the race in second place in 2:19:34, the ninth all-time fastest time in the world after losing the battle to Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia (2:19:31). Her efforts to make the national team for the 2012 London Olympics failed after she developed an injury from her new running shoes.

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