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Galen Rupp unfazed by ex-Kenyan runners taking up US citizenship

Friday March 31 2017

US long distance running star Galen Rupp fields questions from the media during the Prague Half Marathon pre race press conference at the Prague Hilton on March 31, 2017. PHOTO | ELIAS MAKORI |

US long distance running star Galen Rupp fields questions from the media during the Prague Half Marathon pre race press conference at the Prague Hilton on March 31, 2017. PHOTO | ELIAS MAKORI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

ELIAS MAKORI
By ELIAS MAKORI
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IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

US long distance running star Galen Rupp is unfazed by the avalanche of Kenyan athletes taking up American citizenship, saying he is focused on his own performance.

Rupp, a bronze medallist at last year's Rio Olympics marathon, told Nation Sport on Friday that his main goal is to perform well at global events, like the Olympics.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge (left) celebrates next to USA's Galen Rupp after winning the men's Marathon athletics event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Sambodromo in Rio de Janeiro on August 21, 2016. PHOTO | OLIVIER MORIN |

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge (left) celebrates next to USA's Galen Rupp after winning the men's Marathon athletics event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Sambodromo in Rio de Janeiro on August 21, 2016. PHOTO | OLIVIER MORIN |AFP

At last Sunday's IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, four of the six US runners in the senior men's race were ex-Kenyans, namely Sam Chelanga, Leonard Korir, Shadrack Kipchirchir and Stanley Kebenei.

But Rupp, also a record eight times US 10,000 metres champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist over the distance, sought to sidestep the issue saying "there are some things one can't control."

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CONTROVERSIAL TWEET

Of the ex-Kenyan US quartet in Kampala, Baringo-born Chelanga, who got his US passport just two years ago, was best placed at 11th place in the men's 10km race, after which he delivered a controversial tweet saying he "would not recommend racing in Africa."

However, Rupp steered clear of the controversial issue when asked about running in Africa, instead stressing that he was happy to train in the US, close to his wife and three children, who include a set of twins.

"I've never been to East Africa and I prefer training at home close to my wife, family and keeping the routine. Park City, Utah, and Portland are pretty much the places I usually like training in," he said.

Rupp, who comes into Saturday's Prague Half Marathon with a personal best time of one hour and 30 seconds (1:00:30), is using the race to prepare for the Boston Marathon on April 17 and wouldn't be drawn into the debate of athletes changing nationality which is currently being discussed by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Race officials present running bibs to Kenyan athletes Joyciline Jepkosgei (left) and Violah Jepchumba on march 31, 2017 on the eve of the Prague Half Marathon. PHOTO | ELIAS MAKORI |

Race officials present running bibs to Kenyan athletes Joyciline Jepkosgei (left) and Violah Jepchumba on march 31, 2017 on the eve of the Prague Half Marathon. PHOTO | ELIAS MAKORI |NATION MEDIA GROUP

"I'd really like to focus on myself and what I do which is to compete against the best of the best, and the best of the best are always at the Olympics. I wanna keep myself as focused as possible to run my own races," the Alberto Salazaar-coached runner said.

The IAAF recently constituted a working group to look into the issue of wanton nationality changes.

At the Kampala championships last Sunday, the entire Turkish team was made up of ex-Kenyans while Bahrain fielded a couple of Kenya-born runners including the Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion and world record holder Ruth Jebet.

Rupp sees a bright future in US long distance running saying the country now has a lot of role models who have won Olympic medals and who are inspiring young runners.

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