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Big names, youngsters in line for Kenya's Olympic marathon team

Friday January 31 2020
By AYUMBA AYODI

Olympic Marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge and World Marathon champion Ruth Chepng'etich are expected to be named in Kenya's marathon team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Kipchoge, who claimed his maiden Olympic title when he won the Marathon race at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, tops the probables in men's squad.

Also highly expected to be named is the World Marathon bronze medallist Amos Kipruto, Boston and Chicago Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono and Bedan Karoki, who finished second at Tokyo Marathon and fourth Chicago last year. Honolulu Marathon champion and African Games Half Marathon champion Titus Ekiru is also in line.

Cheng'etich, the 2019 Dubai Marathon champion, is likely to team up with Women's mixed world marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei, Olympic 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot and Frankfurt Marathon champion Valerie Aiyabei and Sally Chepyego who finished third in Berlin Marathon last year.

Kipchoge won the 2019 London Marathon in a course record time of 2:02:37 on April 28. It was Kipchoge’s fourth win in London, beating his own 2016 London Marathon record by 28 seconds. It was the second fastest marathon of all time, behind his 2018 Berlin Marathon world record win of 2:01:39 before Ethiopian Kenenissa Bekele won Berlin Marathon this year in 2:01:41.

Then Kipchoge would enter the Guinness World Records as the first man to run a marathon under two hours when he completed the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in 1:59:40 in Vienna on October 12.

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Kipchoge would make history as the first man to win the World Marathon Majors four times when clinching the 2018/2019 title with wins at 2018 Berlin and 2019 London Marathons.

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Bedan Karoki (left) and Lawrence Cherono before the Tokyo Olympics Marathon team naming at Riadha House, Nairobi on January 31, 2020. PHOTO | AYUMBA AYODI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Cherono claimed his maiden World Marathon Major victories last year winning in Boston Marathon in 2:07:57 on April 15 before wrapping up a double in Chicago Marathon in 2:05:45 on October 13.

Kipruto settled for bronze on his debut for Kenya in men’s marathon team in 2:10:51 at last year's World Championships in Doha on October 5.

Kosgei set the new mixed women's world marathon clocking 2 hours, 14 minutes and 04 seconds to retain her Chicago Marathon title on October 13, having won the London Marathon in 2:18:20 early on April 28. Kosgei’s feat saw her erase Britain's Paula Radcliffe time of 2:15:25 set on April 13, 2003 in London.

It is also a course record as she reduced Radcliffe's time of 2:17:18 set in October 13, 2002.

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From left: Brigid Kosgei, Valerie Aiyabei and Ruth Chepng'etich before the Tokyo Olympics Marathon team naming at Riadha House, Nairobi on January 31, 2020. PHOTO | AYUMBA AYODI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kosgei’s victory in London and Chicago last year, has since seen her win her maiden 2018/2019 World Marathon Majors title and Sh50 million jackpot. Kosgei was among the nominees for the 2019 IAAF Female Athlete of the Year Award.

To add to her accolades, Kosgei won the Houston, Bahrain and Great North Run Half Marathon races.

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Olympic 5,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot (left) and Sally Chepyego (centre) before the Tokyo Olympics Marathon team naming at Riadha House, Nairobi on January 31, 2020. PHOTO | AYUMBA AYODI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Before Brigid struck in Chicago, Chepng’etich had ran the third fastest time in women’s marathon history when she won in Dubai on January 25 last year in 2:17:08. Chepng’etich went into the World Championships in Doha as the fastest this season and never disappointed to win women’s marathon in 2:32:43.

Chepng’etich also won Istanbul Half Marathon, Seiryu Half Marathon, and Bogota Half Marathons.

Aiyabei smashed the 2:20 barrier when she won the Frankfurt Marathon in a course record time of 2:19.10 in October last year, six months after winning Eldoret Marathon in 2:27.17.

Last year, Cheruyot finished second at London Marathon in 2:20:14 before settling fourth at Valencia Marathon in 2:18:52.

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