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Marathon battle awaits Kenya in Rio Olympics

Sunday July 31 2016

Paris Marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho trains in Moiben, Uasin Gishu County, on July 30, 2016 in readiness for the 2016 Olympics. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Paris Marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho trains in Moiben, Uasin Gishu County, on July 30, 2016 in readiness for the 2016 Olympics. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BENARD ROTICH
By BENARD ROTICH
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Kenya’s women’s marathon team will be out to win the country’s first Olympics gold medal at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

But first, Kenya’s team of Paris Marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho, Tokyo Marathon champion Hela Kiprop and London Marathon champion Jemima Sumgong must craft a method of dealing with reigning champion Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia.

The soft-spoken Jepkesho on Saturday told Sunday Nation Sport that Kenyan athletes can only secure victory through team work rather than individual effort.
Victory in Ro will certainly depend on which athlete best deals with the heat and humidity.

“It’s a hard task ahead of us but we will do our best to make sure we strip Ethiopians of the gold medal and if possible win all the three medals,” said Jepkesho. Gelana won the title at the 2012 edition of the Games in London, with Prisca Jeptoo taking silver.

Jepkesho reckons the team has prepared well for the challenge ahead as they wait to leave for Rio next week.

“We have finished with the hard part of training and what we are doing now is fine-tuning as we wait to go to Rio. We know competition is tight and everybody will be eyeing glory but we hope to perform well,” said Jepkesho.

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HOPES FOR BIG THINGS

It will be Jepkesho’s first time to represent Kenya at the Olympics, and she hopes for big things in Rio.

“It’s great honour to be named in the team. Since it will be my first time to be at the Olympic Games, I want to do my best,” said the athlete who hails from Kapsabet, Nandi County.

Her training partner Sumgong also emphasised the need for team work in Rio.

“Team work is the only way we will win medals and that is what we are going to do,” she said. Unlike other athletes who start with track events, Jepkesho went straight to road and marathon races, winning the 2013 Darica Half Marathon in Turkey.

She made her debut in marathon by winning the 2013 Milan Marathon in 2hrs, 28:40min before winning the Lisbon Marathon the same year in 2:26:47.She finished third in last year’s Paris Marathon before winning it this year.

“After winning in Paris this year, I got a lot of courage and knew that my career had just taken off and I’m not looking back. In any races that I will go, I will be looking for victory and nothing else,” added the champion.

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