Kenya’s women marathon team has vowed to deliver the elusive Olympic Games title come the London Summer Games.
Two time London marathon champion, Mary Keitany, World champion Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo said they have what it takes to stage a clean sweep of the podium places but only if they embrace right tactics and teamwork.
The trio, who expressed their gratitude to Athletics Kenya and the coaches, said they were determined to accomplish what their role model, one of the greatest women’s marathoner of all time, Catherine Ndereba, started.
Ndereba has two silver medals from the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and two World titles from 2003 Paris and 2007 Osaka.
Keitany, who became the third fastest woman marathon runner when she retained the London Marathon title in 2:18:37 on Sunday said their performances stretching from last year to Sunday gives them the right striking position.
Interestingly, Keitany’s blistering personal best that saw her better Ndereba’s Africa and Kenya record of 2:18:47, orchestrated a Kenyan sweep of the podium places with Kiplagat and Jeptoo striding home with personal best times of 2:19:50 and 2:20:14 respectively.
It’s Kiplagat, who also led another Kenyan sweep at the 2011 Daegu World Championships where Jeptoo claimed silver and Sharon Cherop bronze.
Cherop failed to get a place in the final team despite finishing seventh in the Dubai Marathon ( PB 2:22:39) in January and winning Boston (2:31:50) two weekends ago. The reigning Berlin Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat, who finished fourth in London in 2:20:57 was also left out.
“If we are to embrace teamwork just like we did on Sunday then the Olympic glory will be ours.
“There is need to fall back to each other, call each other and push one another during the race,” said Keitany.
“Other factors like the course that has many corners and the humid weather will definitely not be favourable hence the need to focus on the right tactics and teamwork.”
Kiplagat said they are now aware of the narrow and challenging course.
“Olympic marathon races or rather championship races are not about time but mental preparedness and team work.”
Keitany explained that it’s every sportsman and woman’s dream to be at the Olympics. “I thank God for providing me with the opportunity for my Olympic Games debut.”
Kiplagat, who is also making her Olympic debut declared: “ Time is now ripe for Kenyan women marathoners to stake a claim for the Olympic glory. We only need to believe in God and ourselves.”
Even though Kiplagat was deeply humbled, she wasn’t surprised. “I believe in myself and my capability,” said Kiplagat.
The trio reckoned that the early selection gave them ample time to prepare and focus on the ultimate prize. Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat said the selection was based on fitness and time. rather than victories, world record or personal best.