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Focus now on team for Berlin

Monday April 27 2009

Samuel Wanjiru (L) of Kenya leads Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia and Jaouad Gharib (back) of Morocco to win the men's elite group in the 2009 London Marathon April 26, 2009. PHOTO/ REUTERS

Samuel Wanjiru (L) of Kenya leads Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia and Jaouad Gharib (back) of Morocco to win the men's elite group in the 2009 London Marathon April 26, 2009. PHOTO/ REUTERS 

By CHRIS MUSUMBA

After the Boston and London marathons, the focus now turns on the selection of Kenya’s team to this year’s World Championships set for Berlin in August.

Kenyan elite runners, who hoped to earn selection to the country’s marathon for the 12th IAAF World Championships in Berlin, had their last chance to impress selectors on the streets of Boston and London.

Several have shown their class including winners Samuel Wanjiru and Salina Kosgei, Catherine Ndereba, Daniel Rono, Robert Cheruiyot and Emmanuel Mutai.

Martin Lel’s injury, which has forced him out of the second marathon in six months - he missed New York and London - might reduce his chances of running in Berlin.

Shortlist

Athletics Kenya Secretary General David Okeyo confirmed earlier that spring marathon season was to be used in its marathon selection and a provisional shortlist of five men and five women based on performances was to be announced to start preparations.

That list will not include Wanjiru, the Olympic champion, who has indicated that he is more keen on taking a shot at the world record at the Berlin Marathon in September instead of the World Championships which comes a month earlier.

World champions Ndereba and Luke Kibet have automatic slots on the team. It is the remaining eight athletes that Kenyans and the world will be keen to see.

Kenya has reigned supreme in major city marathons a cross the globe. In 1981, the year that the first London Marathon was held, not one Kenyan athlete was among the world’s top 100 marathon runners. Now Kenyan men have a majority share in the rankings. The latest seeding done in 2008 shows Kenya had 65 of the 100 runners.

Marathon titles

Currently, Kenya hold both the World and Olympic marathon titles. Ndereba, who was seventh in London is also the women world champion and a silver medallist at the Beijing Olympics.

From Asia to America, Kenyans have ruled the roost. No wonder a Kenyan has won Boston 16 out of the last 18 years.

Once Ibrahim Hussein won it in 1988, his countrymen followed. Cosmas Ndeti, Moses Tanui, Lameck Aguta, Joseph Chebet, Elijah Lagat, Rodgers Rop, Timothy Cherigat and Robert Cheruiyot have been crowned men’s champions.

Ndereba has won the women’s title a record four times with Rita Jeptoo Sitienei (twice), Salina Kosgei (once) the other Kenyan winners.

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