World marathon record holder (women only) Mary Keitany said she is delighted that the national government through the president has finally rewarded her success.
Keitany was on Thursday feted with the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW) award by president Uhuru Kenyatta during the Jamhuri Day celebrations garden party at State House, Nairobi.
Speaking to Nation Sport on Friday, Keitany said that the award came as a surprise to her at a time she is almost retiring from the sport.
“I’m happy that the president has finally rewarded my exploits in the sport. Since I started running, this is the first time I have been rewarded by the government,” said the former New York Marathon champion.
Keitany also said that after being rewarded, she feels energized and will be looking forward to a good season next year.
“The award has given me morale to continue working hard and I want to say that I will be training harder for better results next year. For now, I’m still recovering after the New York Marathon race which I managed to come in second,” said Keitany, who is also the former World Half Marathon record holder.
The athlete said that she will be participating in one major race in April 2020 and represent the country at the Tokyo Olympics if picked.
“It would be an honour to represent my country at the highest stage once again if picked," added the athlete, who was fourth during the 2012 Olympics Games in London, where she clocked 2:23:56.
Keitany is one of the most accomplished runners having won seven major marathon races, including three in London and four in New York.
The athlete won the London Marathon in 2011, 2012 and 2017, while she has won four times in New York - 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018.
Her career best is 2 hours 17 minutes 1 second, set at the 2017 London Marathon, the third fastest marathon by a woman.
Keitany also uses some of her race earnings to support development in her community having partnered with Shoe4Africa to build a school in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County.
Keitany becomes the second marathon star to be recognized by the president after world men's marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge who was feted with Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (E.G.H.) award during Mashujaa Day celebrations in October in Mombasa.
She is married to Charles Koech, who is also her coach, and they have been blessed with two children.