Kenya’s national Olympic committee has escaped the threat of suspension after failing to adopt a new constitution but funding will continue to be withheld until further notice, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Saturday. The IOC froze financial support to Kenya nine days ago, after the country’s troubled national committee (NOCK) failed to adopt a revised constitution, and said it would discuss the matter at its executive board (EB) meeting in Pyeongchang this week, leading to speculation that it might ban the country. However, IOC Deputy Director General Pere Miro said a Kenyan undertaking to bring in the new constitution at a meeting later this month meant the IOC had stayed the threat of further action. “The IOC EB noted, with disappointment, that your NOC failed to adopt its revised constitution at its meeting on 7 March 2017,” Miro said in a letter to NOCK President Kipchoge Keino.

“However, the IOC EB welcomed the recent positive developments, as mentioned in your letter dated 14 March 2017, in particular the firm commitment from your NOC to rectify the situation and the resolution signed by the members of your NOC Executive Committee to support the adoption of this revised constitution at its next Extraordinary General Assembly already reconvened by your NOC on 28 March 2017. “In view of this significant progress, no further action will be taken at this stage by the IOC. Nevertheless, the IOC EB has confirmed that all payments of subsidies to your NOC continue to be on hold until further notice,” said the letter.

“The IOC will continue to monitor closely the completion of the entire process - including the adoption of the revised NOC constitution, as a first step, and the holding of your NOC Elective General Assembly, as a second step - in accordance with the road map established in September 2016,” the letter said.

The IOC wants the body to adopt a new constitution barring incumbent officials from casting their vote during general assemblies, which some have been accused of using to prolong their own terms in office.

Kenya last month accepted a local high court decision overruling last year’s government order to disband its Olympic committee after accusations that it had poorly handled arrangements for the 2016 Rio Games. Sports Minister Hassan Wario had ordered that the NOCK be disbanded last August, saying the body had not arranged adequate accommodation and travel for the Olympic team in Rio and had mishandled other issues. Despite problems in the build up to Rio, the East African nation enjoyed its most successful Olympics, winning six gold medals, six silvers and one bronze, all in track and field.

Comment

Hilary Kipkosgei Yego of Kenya and Munkhzaya Bayartsogt of Mongolia were the victors at the New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Sunday (19).

The 30-year-old Yego, whose CV includes a victory at the 2013 Athens Marathon, took the men's race in 2:17:02 while the unheralded Bayartsogt, a 2016 Olympian, took the women's title in 2:38:08.

"Compared with other city marathons in general, the hills and the wind off the sea here are quite challenging," said Yego, who arrived with a 2:11:54 lifetime best, set at the 2014 Marrakech Marathon.

In the men's contest, Tsegaye Debele Belda of Ethiopia was just a few steps behind in second clocking 2:17:04. Samson Kipchirchir Keiyo of Kenya rounded out the podium in 2:17:15.

Bayartsogt, who holds the Mongolian national records for 5000m and 10,000m on the track at 16:11.10 and 33:31.11 and in the marathon with 2:33:36, upped the pace after 35 kilometres en route to her first marathon win outside of her home country.

Tseha Gebre Getiso of Ethiopia, who arrived with 2:30 credentials, was second in 2:31:21. Her compatriot Ayele Belachew was a distant third, clocking 2:29:07.

More than 12,000 runners participated in the race's 15th edition.

Comment

Four runners under the team leadership of Kenya's Tegla Loroupe will form an Athlete Refugee Team in the mixed relay event at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Cross Country Championships in Kampala.

The discipline will be making its debut at the Championships which will take place on March 26.

Guided by Loroupe, the former world half marathon champion and marathon world record holder, the squad includes Olympian Paulo Amotun Lokoro, the South Sudanese runner who was part of the Refugee Olympic Team at Rio 2016.

Loroupe was named as the United Nations Person of the Year for 2016, in recognition of the work she did through her Peace Foundation to find and support refugee athletes.

She also acted as Chef de Mission for the refugee team at last year's Olympics. 

"It is a great honour for me to lead this team," she told reporters in Nairobi.

"Last year we made history taking a refugee team of 10 to the Rio Olympics.

"Now we have another chance to write history in athletics by competing in cross country."

Loroupe's Foundation has been supporting the team members while they trained in Eldoret, with competitors selected from the Kakuma camp.

Located near the Kenyan border with Uganda and South Sudan, the camp is home to 180,000 people.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) created the plan for refugee participation last year, setting up a $2 million (£1.6 million/€1.8 million) training fund and facilitating the selection trials which eventually produced the 10 athletes who competed at Rio 2016 in athletics, judo and swimming. 

The IOC claimed that the Rio 2016 team - consisting of five South Sudanese, two Syrians, two from the Democratic Republic of Congo and one Ethiopian - would act as "a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide".

In total, 13 nations are set to contest the mixed relay, the latest innovation for the oldest IAAF World Athletics Series event. 

Each team comprises two men and two women, who will each run a two-kilometre circuit.

Among the stellar names attracted by this Olympic-friendly innovation is Kenya's triple world and 2008 Olympic 1,500 metres champion Asbel Kiprop.

Final entry figures for the event in Kampala suggest it will be the biggest Championship in terms of athletes since 2006, with an expected 557 runners from 60 teams set to compete.

Comment

Kenyans Elisha Barno and Hellen Jepkurgat won the men's and women's titles at the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday. Barno pulled away from 2015 winner Daniel Limo of Kenya in the final mile of the race, crossing the finish line near the Santa Monica Pier in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 51 seconds.

Limo was timed in 2:12.13. He finished third last year in the 26.2-mile race that begins at Dodger Stadium and finishes at the Pacific Ocean.

Willy Koitile of Kenya finished third in 2:12.43. Defending champion Weldon Kirui of Kenya was fourth in 2:13.21.

Jepkurgat comfortably led the pack throughout the women's race before breaking away in the 13th mile to win in 2:34.24, nearly 2 minutes ahead of fellow Kenyan Jane Kibii, who finished in 2:36.14.

The winners earned $23,000 each.

As a student in Kenya, Elisha Barno made a three-mile run between home and school four times a day, counting a quick trip for lunch. He routinely ran nine miles roundtrip to participate in extracurricular sports.

Barno spent countless weekends hunting gazelles and rabbits with his dogs.

To him, running was like breathing.

So it was little surprise Sunday that the indefatigable Barno didn’t break stride in the 25th mile of the Los Angeles Marathon, despite getting sick along the way. He later explained his sports-drink concoction had him feeling queasy.

“It was a lot of pain, but I had to be patient,” said Barno, 30, who pulled ahead of countryman Daniel Limo in the final mile and glided down Ocean Boulevard in Santa Monica all alone, winning in 2 hours 11 minutes 51 seconds.

“I was making calculations in my head,” Barno said. “When I saw the ocean, I thought, ‘No way I’m not going to win this race. I’m not letting go.’”

The back-and-forth battle between Barno and Limo was so intense, they covered the 24th to 25th miles in 4:40, the fastest stretch of the race. Said Limo, who finished second in 2:12:13: “My legs were giving way, but I had to finish.”

Limo, who won the L.A. Marathon two years ago and finished third last year, is the first men’s competitor since 2002 to place in the top three in three consecutive years.

Comment

With just a few days to go until the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017, final entry figures suggest it will be the biggest edition of the championships since 2006.

An expected 557 athletes from 60 teams are set to compete in the Ugandan capital on 26 March, surpassing the figures from the past six editions.

Those figures include the four athletes who are set to represent an Athlete Refugee Team in the mixed relay. Guided by team leader Tegla Loroupe, the squad includes Olympian Paulo Amotun Lokoro, who was part of the Refugee Olympic Team in Rio last summer.

In total, 13 nations are set to contest the mixed relay, the latest innovation for the oldest IAAF World Athletics Series event. Each team comprises two men and two women, who will each run a two-kilometre circuit.

The IAAF Cross Country Permit series, spread across seven meetings from November 2016 to February 2017, has whetted the appetite for the forthcoming championships and many of the top performers on the circuit are set to compete in Kampala.

Aweke Ayalew, winner of the men’s races in Burgos and Seville, will be aiming to win Bahrain’s first individual medal at the World Cross, having earned a team bronze medal in 2015.

Senbere Teferei, also a winner in Burgos and Seville, will be joined on the Ethiopian team by Muktar Edris, winner of the Campaccio meeting earlier this year. Teenager Selemon Barega, who triumphed at the Cinque Mulini meeting at the end of January, is Ethiopia’s leading hope of a medal in the U20 men’s race.

Uganda’s Timothy Toroitich, who won convincingly in Alcobendas last November, will captain the host nation’s team, while Almond Blossom winner Irene Cheptai forms part of a strong Kenyan senior women’s squad.

Comment

The first phase of an Athletics for a Better World project organised in cooperation with the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation took place in Ngong, Kenya over the weekend.

The project brings together Kids Athletics – a programme initiated by the IAAF in 2005 and the long-term work of former marathon world record-holder Tegla Loroupe, which culminated in the entry of the inaugural Refugee Team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Through the Kids Athletics in Refugee Camps project, the IAAF trained athlete refugees and coaches from the Tegla Loroupe Training Camp to become Kids Athletics Activators. The purpose was to create a team of athletics trainers who could then train people on the ground in the UNHRC refugee settlements and the host communities to become Kids Athletics coaches able to conduct regular Kids Athletics sessions for local children.

“My dream has been to help young people gain confidence and purpose through athletics,” said Peace Champion Tegla Loroupe. “I have learnt so much from my sport and I want to share this. When I was looking for financial support to start the training camps, the IAAF was generous and the Refugee Team that competed at the Rio 2016 Games owes its early steps to the funding and support from the IAAF. I am so excited about the next stage of this programme, developing the coaches for Kids Athletics from within the refugee camps. This is how we will build future citizens and inspire future athletes.”

Fifteen people from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya participated in the kick-off three-day workshop, held at the Tegla Loroupe Training Camp for Athlete Refugees in Ngong, outside Nairobi, from 9-11 March, conducted by IAAF Lecturer Innocent Asiimwe and coordinated by Eunice Hasango, manager at the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation.

“Athletics is a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone,” said IAAF President Sebastian Coe. “I have long admired the work Tegla and her team have done and continue to do and I am proud that it was funding from the IAAF in 2014 that started the journey to creating the Refugee Team, a team we look forward to welcoming at our events this year.

“Kids Athletics training is the first step in the pyramid of IAAF coaching courses and is a great way to empower the athlete refugees by giving them the basic training which will enable them to eventually continue along the path and pursue careers in coaching,” added Coe.

Among the trainees to be coached by the first participants will be the reformed warriors. These warriors used to engage in cattle rustling but gave up their weapons after taking part in Tegla Loroupe’s Peace Races, first staged in her native West Pokot region in 2003 and recently developed into a cross-border event held in neighbouring Uganda. The Kids Athletics training will allow the reformed warriors to gain skills and become an integrated and integral part of the community, passing on their learning and skills to others.

On 28 and 30 March, after the World Cross Country Championships being staged in Kampala, Uganda, the IAAF will be taking some members of the media on a visit to the Kids Athletics activities organised in the refugee settlements in Moroto and in Kapenguria, West Pokot.

Comment

The 2022 edition of the Commonwealth Games will no longer be held in Durban, South Africa.

Comment

Four world record holders are set to grace the track at the National Stadium for the Racers Grand Prix on June 10.

Comment

Frankie Fredericks has quit his role as Chairman of the International Olympic Committee's Evaluation Commission for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Comment

Four-time Olympic silver medallist Frankie Fredericks has stepped down from his prominent role with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), after charges of corruption.

Comment

Kenya is now staring at a possible ban by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) used their numbers to shoot down a constitutional process that will delay NOC election by at least another month.

Comment

Sprinting away from 2013 winner Vincent Kipruto with 300 metres to go, Ezekiel Chebii of Kenya won the 72nd Lake Biwa Marathon in Otsu, Japan, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (5).

 “I was hoping to run 2:06, but the last half of the race was quite difficult with wind,” said Chebii, who clocked 2:09:06, beating Kipruto by six seconds.

The three pace setters were asked to take the race out in a three minute-per-kilometre clip, and they did. Kicking off with a 14:57 opening five kilometres, they forged one with splits of 14:53, 14:59, 15:11, 14:53 and 14:59 before the first pace maker dropped out at 30 kilometres. At that point the two remaining pace makers looked the best among the leaders.

Just before 30 kilometres, Chebii fell behind Kipruto and the pace makers, but then worked his way back to join them at the front a kilometre later. The duel between the two Kenyans continued for more than 10 kilometres, and they entered the Ojiyama stadium together. Chebii finally made his move with less than a lap of the track remaining.

“I knew Kipruto had a faster time than me, but just as we entered the stadium together he seemed to have a problem,” Chebii said. “So although I was tired, I made my move and he could not respond, so I went for the win.”

For Chebii it was the third fastest time of his career and marked the fourth time he cracked the 2:10 barrier. For Kipruto, his 2:09:15 was his first sub-2:10 since his third place finish in this race in 2014 when he clocked 2:09:54, and his fastest performance since his 2:06:15 run at the 2013 Frankfurt Marathon.

Ugandan Solomon Mutai, the bronze medallist at the 2015 world championships, finished third in 2:09:59, knocking 43 seconds from his previous lifetime best.

Leading results:

 1. Ezekiel Chebii (KEN)  2:09:06

  (14:57, 29:50, 44:49, 60:00, 63:19, 1:14:54, 1:29:52, 1:45:44, 2:02:03)

 2. Vincent Kipruto (KEN)  2:09:15

 3. Munyo Solomon Mutai (UGA)  2:09:59

 4. Satoru Sasaki (JPN)  2:10:10

 5. Kohei Matsumura (JPN)  2:11:04

 6. Suehiro Ishikawa (JPN)  2:11:05

 7. Hayato Sonoda (JPN)  2:11:32

 8. Shoya Osaki (JPN)  2:12:07

 9. Yihunilign Adane (ETH)  2:12:33

10. Daisuke Uekado (JPN)  2:12:58

Comment

"Appropriate actions" are being threatened by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) if the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) suffers further delays in approving its new constitution this week.

The threat was made in a letter sent to the national governing body, co-signed by IOC deputy director general Pere Miró and Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) President Lassana Palenfo.

It implies that the IOC Executive Board may consider sanctioning the country during its meeting in Pyeongchang on March 16 and 17 if appropriate steps do not take place.

This comes after a Special General Meeting last week, at which the new NOCK statutes were expected to be approved, was abruptly adjourned amid political wrangling and disagreements.

Jérôme Poivey, head of institutional relations and governance at the IOC National Olympic Committees (NOCs) Relations Department, and ANOCA Presidential chief of staff Mohamed Azzoug, are each expected to attend the re-arranged meeting scheduled for Tuesday (March 7) to oversee the adoption of the proposed new constitution.

"It is with great concern and disappointment that we have learned of the adjournment of your NOC Extraordinary General Assembly, which was expected to be concluded on February 28, 2017, in accordance with our road-map agreed upon in September 2016, our letters dated December 16, 2016 and February 27, 2017...and our numerous communications and discussions," explained the IOC and ANOCA letter. 

"It is now our understanding that this Extraordinary General Assembly will resume on March 7, 2017. 

"Once again, we request that this meeting proceed and conclude as agreed upon between all parties since the very beginning of this process, and following a long phase of discussion and consultations (since September 2016) within your NOC - and between your NOC and the IOC - which led to a principle agreement on the final draft constitution.

"Once again, we call on you to take responsible and constructive action to conclude this process smoothly on March 7, in accordance with our road map and all our previous agreements. 

"In this spirit, it is expected that you abstain from circulating any further counter-productive communications on the past situation and/or threats of future legal action between yourselves, which do not contribute to pacifying the situation. 

"We must now look for a peaceful and successful meeting on March 7 in an atmosphere of mutual respect, understanding and trust.

"We also wish to inform you that, should this meeting of March 7 fail to proceed as expected, the situation would have to be reported at the next IOC Executive Board meeting for review and appropriate action."

This marks the latest setback in a long running saga ever since Kenyan Sports Minister Hassan Wario disbanded the NOCK in August following a catalogue of problems during that month's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The reform process mediated by the IOC has since experienced numerous delays.

Elections were pushed-back to March after a failure to meet an initial December deadline as longstanding officials close to Keino clashed with a new guard of administrators seeking more sweeping reforms.

But even this deadline now appears impossible as no elections can take place until after the constitution is approved. 

The most contentious change proposed involves stripping the current members of voting powers during elections.

Comment

ITN Productions has been appointed by the IAAF as Host Broadcaster for the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017 in Nassau following an extensive two-month tender process involving six companies.

The ITN Productions live coverage will feature 16-18 cameras and will incorporate digital and social media coverage. ITN Productions will provide an integrated live feed for international television and radio rights holders of the opening and closing ceremonies, all races and medal ceremonies as athletes from 40 countries compete across the two days to win the coveted Golden Baton and guaranteed qualification for the 4x100m and 4x400m relays at this August’s IAAF World Championships London 2017.

IAAF CEO Olivier Gers said: “Together we will deliver the excitement and energetic atmosphere of this young, vibrant two-day competition focused on the fast running and slick baton exchanges of the world’s best relay teams, and the emotions and reactions of their athletes. The IAAF World Relays was created in 2014 as an innovative team event for a predominantly individual sport. Fantastic entertainment presented with music, lights and pyrotechnics played out to one of the most engaged and enthusiastic crowds in the world and the backdrop of Nassau’s rich Junkanoo rhythms.”

ITN Productions Director of Sport Alastair Waddington, who will lead the host broadcast team, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for ITN Productions to work closely with one of the leading federations in world sport. We look forward to bringing our technical creativity, storytelling and outstanding client care to the relationship. We look forward to producing outstanding live images of a wonderfully vibrant and exciting event."

ITN Productions will build the international broadcast compound at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium to supply live coverage, highlights and on-site facilities to the IAAF international Rights Holders.

ITN Productions’ London-based team will provide digital highlights for mainstream and online media to ensure engagement of multi generations of fans around the world.

The HB team will include Live Director Grant Phillips, Producer Mark Fulton and Technical Director Bevan Gibson. Outside broadcast facilities will be provided by NEP Visions.

Comment

Confusion has surfaced over Kenya's participation at the event, due to be held in Nassau from July 19 to 23, when Paul sent a notice to the NOCK membership that they had been forced to withdraw from the event. 

This was dismissed by NOCK chairman Kipchoge Keino, who insisted "we have not entirely withdrawn from the Games". It came amid another chaotic meeting, which ended prematurely after the NOCK could not agree on the agenda. 

Keino admitted, however, that they were struggling to fund sending a team to The Bahamas for the Commonwealth Youth Games and warned they would not participate if they did not attract sufficient money.

According to insidethegames.biz, the Commonwealth Games Association of Kenya has not formally notified the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) nor the Bahamas 2017 Organising Committee of any withdrawal. 

"We look forward to the Commonwealth Games Association of Kenya confirming their athletes and teams as soon as possible, and look forward to hosting their young athletes at the Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games this summer," a CGF spokesperson said. 

The initial circulation from the NOCK secretary general was met with criticism from members present at the meeting. 

"The decision for Kenya to withdraw from the Games is very unfortunate and a big blow for the youth of this nation who may not get a chance to compete with their peers because of politics and selfish interest," Boxing Association of Kenya chairman John Kameta said. 

The NOCK  was disbanded by Sports Minister Hassan Wario in the wake of a series of issues at last year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

Last month the decision from Wario was thrown out by the High Court, who ruled he had no legal authority to disband the organisation. Officials were accused of key accommodation and travel mishaps in the Brazilian city, including the "mishandling of accreditation", as well as kits which allegedly never reached athletes.

Every senior NOCK official, except Keino, was arrested. 

Kenya claimed a total of seven medals at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, which included four golds and three silvers. This year's edition is set be the largest international sporting event ever staged in The Bahamas and the biggest-ever Commonwealth Youth Games, with up to 1,300 athletes aged 14 to 18 expected to participate. 

Comment

Tokyo marathon champion Wilson Kipsang of Kenya might have missed the world record last week, but his performance has inspired him to dream of returning to Japan to compete at the 2020 Olympics.

The 34-year-old will not allow age to curtail his progress and remained adamant he will have what it takes to compete for Kenya in three years’ time and probably win that elusive Olympic gold that he yearns to have in his collection, reports Xinhua news agency.

In London 2012, Kipsang was strong enough to win bronze, but was overlooked in the 2016 Rio Olympics after failing to make an impact at the 2015 Beijing World Championships.

But he has re-energised his career winning in Tokyo and claiming silver in Berlin and London in his last three performances.

“I hope to compete in Japan at the 2020 Olympics. It is a long way, but it is something I want to do,” Kipsang said on Monday.

Kipsang broke the Tokyo marathon course record with 2:03:58, after his attempt to reclaim his World Record title from his compatriot Dennis Kimetto currently with 2:02:57.

Kipsang is also hopeful that after his performance in Tokyo, Kenya selectors will consider him for the ticket to London World Championships in August.

Comment

Kenyans Wilson Kipsang and Sarah Chepchirchir clocked impressive world-leading performances at the Tokyo Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Sunday (26). Kipsang, the former world record holder, clocked 2:03:58 to clip nearly two minutes from the previous race record while the unheralded Chepchirchir clocked 2:19:47 to improve the race mark by more than a minute. Both were also the fastest marathons ever run in Japan.

“I was feeling very good," said Kipsang, whose performance was the 12th fastest ever run. "The course is very good, but it was bit windy."

FAST FROM THE GUN

Strong winds notwithstanding, the men's race began with a blistering pace to match the pre-race world record assault hype, opening with a 2:46 first kilometre and the clock reading 14:13 through five. Although the pace slackened when an early downhill portion of the course was run, the first 10 kilometres were still covered in a scintillating 28:50. 

The fast pace continued with the half-way point reached in 1:01:22, slower than in last September's Berlin Marathon, but faster than the 1:01:30 Kipsang requested. The leaders reached the 30-kilometre marker in 1:27:27, still, 11 seconds ahead of the pace en route to Dennis Kimetto's world record run at the Berlin Marathon in 2014. At that point the last pace-setter stepped off the course, leaving Kipsang and Tokyo Marathon record holder Dickson Chumba alone at the front.

At an even 15 minutes, the next five-kilometre stretch was the slowest of the race, but Kipsang still managed to pull away to pursue the world record on his own. "Had someone stayed close to me, it would have been easier to chase record," Kipsang said.

A sub-2:04 performance appeared to be slipping away when he passed 40 kilometres in 1:59:29, but determined, Kipsang didn’t want to let it go. "I pushed really hard at the end, because I could see that a 2:03 marathon was still a possibility."

Kipsang covered the final 2.195km in 6:29 to beat the 2:04 barrier for the fourth time in his career. No other runner has more than two. He also increased his sub-2:05 performance count to eight; no one else has more than five. His sub-2:06 tally is also eight to top that category as well. 

More specific to his Tokyo run, Kipsang shattered both the previous race record and Japanese all-comers records of 2:05:42 by Chumba and 2:05:18 by Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede, respectively. It was also the fastest time ever produced in Asia, eclipsing Tamirat Tola’s 2:04:11 from this year’s Dubai Marathon.

"This is one of the fastest course in the world," said Kipsang, whose 1:53 margin of victory was the widest in the race's history. "I would like to return here again."

Gideon Kipketer finished second in 2:05:51, a significant drop from his previous best of 2:08:14. Further back, Chumba was third in 2:06:25 with Evans Chebet fourth in 2:06:42.

 

CHEPCHIRCHIR JOINS SUB-2:20 CLUB

Sarah Chepchirchir was also impressive. 

After covering the first 30 kilometres in 1:46:26 along with Ethiopians Birhane Dibaba and Amane Gobena, Chepchirchir upped the tempo over the next five kilometres to 15:46 to build a cushion of nearly 40 seconds on Dibaba, her nearest rival.

"After 30 kilometres when the pacemakers dropped out," she said, "I was planning to increase the pace." Her strategy worked.

The little-known Chepchirchir, 32, forged on to join the elite sub-2:20 club, her 2:19:47 elevating her to the No. 16 spot among marathoners all-time. It was a remarkable showing for Chepchirchir, who entered the race with a 2:24:13 lifetime best.

Like Kipsang's performance, hers was also a Tokyo race record and a Japanese all-comers record, marks held previously by Helah Kiprop at 2:21:27 and Mizuki Noguchi at 2:21:18, respectively.

"I am convinced that this time is good enough to be selected for the Kenyan World Championships team," Chepchirchir said.

Dibaba finished second in 2:21:19 to improve her previous best of 2:22:30 recorded at the 2014 Tokyo Marathon. Gobena finished third clocking 2:23:09.

 

JAPANESE MEN BATTLE FOR LONDON TEAM SPOTS

The coveted position of the fastest Japanese in the men's race was won by Hiroto Inoue, who came from behind to pass the early leader Yuta Shitara to finish eighth overall in 2:08:22. It was a big improvement on his previous best of 2:12:56 from last year's Lake Biwa Marathon, leaving him in good position to be selected for the World Championships marathon team.

 

Leading Results:

MEN -

1. Wilson Kipsang, KEN        2:03:58

 (14:15, 28:50, 43:34, 58:05, 61:22, 1:12:47, 1:27:27, 1:42:27, 1:57:29)

2. Gideon Kipketer, KEN       2:05:51

3. Dickson Chumba, KEN        2:06:25

4. Evans Chebet, KEN          2:06:42

5. Alfers Lagat, KEN          2:07:39

6. Bernard Kipyego, KEN       2:08:10

7. Yohanes Ghebregergish, ERI 2:08:14

8. Hiroto Inoue, JPN          2:08:22

 

WOMEN -

1. Sarah Chepchirchir, KEN 2:19:47

 (16:39, 33:20, 50:06, 66:46, 70:31, 1:23:35, 1:40:26, 1:56;12, 2:12:35)

2. Birhane Dibaba, ETH     2:21:19

3. Amane Gobena, ETH       2:23:09

4. Ayaka Fujimoto, JPN     2:27:08

5. Marta Lema, ETH         2:27:37

6. Sara Hall, USA          2:28:26

7. Madoka Nakano, JPN      2:33:00

--- IAAF News

Comment

Beijing Olympic Games 800m gold medalist, Wilfred Bungei of Kenya has quit athletics to pursue a career in politics in order to inspire youth to believe in themselves.

Bungei, 37, former world No. 1 in 2002, claimed the major title he coveted for long when he won the Olympic title in a time of 1:44.65 with a dominant front-running performance.

"As a motivational speaker who has been inspiring the youth, I want to go one step higher to offer political leadership and open for them opportunities that can impact on their living," he told reporters at the weekend during Kenya's National Cross Country Championships held in Nairobi.

Bungei has declared interest in vying for the Emgwen Parliamentary seat located in western Kenya that was at one time under the representation of another former athlete, Elijah Lagat who won the Boston Marathon in 2000.

Kenyans will go to the polls on Aug. 8 to elect almost 1,900 public officials including the president, senators, county governors, members of the national assembly, members of county assemblies, and women county representatives.

"I want to champion for change in sports management in the country and bring transparency in order to restore lost glory especially in athletics after we found ourselves on the wrong side of doping," he said.

Bungei said if elected to the national assembly, he will sponsor a Bill in Parliament that will cater for sportsmen and women in their retirement, especially after many of them fall into financial difficulties upon leaving athletics.

He said he will champion for the education of young athletes, most of who start earning a lot of money at a tender age and thereafter fall into financial ruin due to lack of acumen in handling their finances.

Comment

Kenya’s Titus Ekiru was the surprise victor at the 33rd edition of the Zurich Maratón de Sevilla on Sunday (19), improving the course record at this IAAF Silver Label Road Race to 2:07:43. In the women’s race, Spain’s Paula González successfully defended her title with a massive career best of 2:28:54.

Perfectly paced by Spain’s Jesús España, the men’s race kicked-off at a steady 3:02 clip to target the 2:08:14 course record set last year. The opening 10 kilometres were covered in 30:28 with all the key favourites comfortably travelling behind the two pacesetters, España and Amanuel Mesel of Eritrea.

Pacing over the same circuit which witnessed his debut last season, España led the top group exactly until the half marathon point, with the clock reading a promising 1:04:05. Seven men were in contention, the nearest being unheralded 25-year-old Ekiru and compatriot Shadrack Kipkosgei.

Once Mesel – a 2:08:17 marathon runner who lives for much of the year in Madrid – took command of the race the tempo heated up by some four seconds per kilometre. That whittled down the group gradually and by the 30 kilometre point only four men remained in contention: the Kenyan trio of Ekiru, Kipkosgei and Kipkemboi Kinsang and Ethiopian Tariku Kebede, a 2:12 performer. Mesel dropped out after signing off on a brisk 29:40 10km split to leave the favourites on a perfect path to crack 2:08.

From then on the race turned into a marvellous exhibition from Ekiru, who dictated the pace relentlessly despite the modest career bests of 1:02:26 and 2.15:43 he brought to Seville. He left his three pursuers behind some 1:48 into the race with six kilometres remaining. His 2:00:50 split at the 40th kilometre clearly suggested the course record was going to be broken although Ekiru still had to hold off Kebede, who was still in pursuit during the waning stages in the stadium.

Ekiru held on for the victory in 2:07:43, five seconds clear of the Ethiopian who was contesting his third marathon. Kipkosgei completed the podium in 2:08:26, a career best by more than a minute.

“It’s true that my PB was only 2:15:43 but I’ve been training with several 2:05 marathoners in recent months and I managed to follow their pace in our training sessions so I knew I could run quite fast,” Ekiru said. “Anyway, I didn’t expect to win.”

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Leonard Barsoton and Irene Cheptai captured the men’s and women’s senior titles at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships in Nairobi on Saturday (18). With their victories today at the Uhuru Gardens Grounds, the pair, along with U20 winners Richard Kimunyan Yator and Sandra Chebet, will be leading the east African powerhouse at next month's IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017.

FIRST NATIONAL TITLE FOR BARSOTON

The men's senior race saw Japan-based Barsoton, the U20 silver medalist at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships, surprise the field and take his first national title in strong fashion.

The race started at steady pace with Vincent Rono and former world cross country champion Japhet Korir exchanging the early lead. The first break came shortly after half-way with Police trio Geoffrey Kamworor, Bedan Karoki and Barsoton gradually moving to the front. Nicholas Kosimbei, the 2014 world U20 10,000m champion, made a bold move with just over two laps remaining but Barsoton and Kamworor quickly responded and broke from the field. 

With a lap to go it appeared to be down to Barsoton and Kamworor --who resumed training less than two months ago-- with Bedan Karoki leading the challenge. Barsoton forged on to a comfortable victory while Karoki closed quickly to overtake Kamworor at the line for second.

Behind the trio, early leader Rono finished fourth with current 10km and 15km world record holder Leonard Patrick Komon making a notable comeback to finish fifth and punch his ticket to Kampala. Newcomer Leonard Lagat from Keringet finished sixth and will represent Kenya for the first time in his career.

CHEPTAI OVERPOWERS LOADED FIELD - WOMEN’S RACE

The senior races opened with a very competitive women's contest. As all the favorites watched each other for the first two kilometres, Alice Aprot, the reigning African cross country champion, decided to take the leader’s role and upped the pace.

Behind her a high quality group formed, including Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon, 5000m specialist Cheptai, fast-rising Lilian Kasait, Police champion Caroline Chepkoech and Olympic silver medallist Hyvin Kiyeng. By six kilometres the group was reduced to four with Cheptai, Kasait, Kipyegon and Aprot building a small gap.

Kasait, the 2013 world U18 3000m champion, led most of the last two kilometres only to be outsprinted by Kasait in the last 50 metres.

Kipyegon finished third while Aprot, reigning world cross country champion Agnes Tirop and Kiyeng claiming the final qualifying spots. 

CHEBET AND KIMUNYAN TAKE U20 TITLES 

The competition kicked off under pleasant conditions with the women’s U20 6km race. After a conservative opening lap, Nairobi teammates Sandra Chebet and world U20 steeplechase champion Celliphine Chespol began to push the pace. A lead pack of 20 was soon whittled down to six with the full South Rift region squad of Mirriam Cherop, Sheila Chelangat, Joyline Cherotich and Emaculate Chepkirui following in that order.

With less than two kilometres remaining, Chebet upped the tempo to run away to a commanding victory. Chespol was next across the line but there was drama on her heels when Cherop, the African junior cross country champion, collapsed 350 metres from the finish. That left the final Kampala team spots for Chelangat, Chepkirui, Cherotich and newcomer Esther Muthoni.

Conversely, the men’s U20 contest got off to a quick start, with Wesley Ledama and Richard Yator, respectively the 2016 world U20 5000m bronze medallist and 2015 world youth 3000m champion, taking command. A group of 14 quickly formed reducing the pace until the five-kilometre mark when Ledama again upped the tempo to break up the group.

Only Yator, Ronald Kirui, high-schooler Nicholas Kimeli and Edwin Kiplagat were able to respond. Waiting patiently, Yator pulled away for good with 400 metres to go to kick to his seven-second victory.

Ledama, who did most of the leading, was beaten to third by fast-closing Meshak Kyuguti who surprised the field with an impressive closing kilometre.

Kiplagat, world U20 steeplechase champion Amos Kirui and Ronald Kirui finished fourth through sixth to claim their team spots. 

 

Leading Results -

MEN (10km) :

1. Leonard BARSOTON (Police) 28:56

2. Bedan KAROKI (Police) 29:02

3. Geoffrey KAMWOROR (Police) 29:03

4. Vincent RONO (Nairobi) 29:06

5. Leonard KOMON (Coast) 29:09

6. Leonard LAGAT (South Rift) 29:14

 

WOMEN (10km) :

1. Irene CHEPTAI (Police) 31:48

2. Lilian KASAIT (South Rift) 31:51

3. Faith KIPYEGON (South Rift) 32:13

4. Alice APROT (Prisons) 32:19

5. Agnes TIROP (Police) 32:47

6. Hyvin KIYENG (Police) 32:52

 

U20 MEN (8km) :

1. Richard KIMUNYAN (Central Rift) 23:03

2. Meshak KYUGUTI (Southern) 23:10

3. Wesley LADEMA (Nairobi) 23:13

4. Edwin KIPLAGAT (South Rift) 23:15

5. Amos KIRUI (South Rift) 23:17

6. Ronald KIRUI (South Rift) 23:22

 

U20 WOMEN (6km) :

1. Sandra CHEBET (Nairobi) 19:25

2. Celliphine CHESPOL (Nairobi) 19:47

3. Sheila CHELANGAT (South Rift) 19:50

4. Emmaculate CHEPKIRUI (South Rift) 19:52

5. Joyline CHEROTICH (South Rift) 19:54

6. Esther MUTHONI (Nairobi) 19:57

Comment

Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat once again took an overwhelming victory at the eDreams Mitja Marato Barcelona, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, winning comfortably in 1:08:15 on Sunday (12).

Her time was more than three minutes outside the half marathon world record of 1:05:06 set by her compatriot Peres Jepchirchir in Ras Al Khaimah last Friday, but Kiplagat – who broke the world record at this race in 2014 and 2015 – had stated before the race that she was not targeting a world record.

The windy conditions clearly hampered the athletes’ efforts. Paced by Kenyan Dickson Kipchumba and Spain’s Marc Roig, Kiplagat had requested a steady 3:10 steady pace with them for the first half of the race. As agreed, the trio reached the 5km point in 15:47, 37 seconds ahead of the chasing group formed by USA’s Sara Hall, Ethiopia’s Kuma Dibaba, Ireland’s Fionnuala Mc Cormack and Portugal’s Jessica Augusto.

After covering the second five-kilometre segment in 16:03, Kiplagat reached 10km in 31:50 while Dibaba and Hall trailed behind by 68 seconds, themselves 11 seconds ahead of Augusto and 25 clear of McCormack.

Although Kiplagat’s pace dropped further in the second half, she increased her advantage over Dibaba to 94 seconds. Augusto was in third another 20 seconds back but eight seconds clear of Hall in fourth.

At the tape, the former world record-holder signed her fourth win in a row in Barcelona with a relatively modest – by her own lofty standards – 1:08:15, more than a minute quicker than her winning run in Barcelona last year.

Dibaba finished second in 1:09:49 while Augusto took the third place on the podium in 1:10:36, some 43 seconds ahead of a fading Hall with McCormack completing the top five in 1:11:35.

“I’m satisfied with my win but also a little bit disappointed as the wind has annoyed me a lot,” said Kiplagat, who will turn 30 later this month. “I would have liked to run under 1:06 today but at this early stage of the season I’m not at my peak as I’m still in full preparation for the London Marathon in April. I love to come back to Barcelona every year; I realise people already know me and really appreciate me.

“It’s OK, records are there to be broken,” she added when asked about Jepchirchir’s world record earlier in the week. “I’m now happy for her and we’ll try to regain the record in the future.”

Held in conjunction with the women’s race, the men’s contest kicked off at a brisk pace with the hopes of bringing the 1:00:04 course record within 60 minutes.

The Kenyan quintet of Meshak Koech, Leonard Langat, Abel Kirui and Joel Kimurer ran alongside Ethiopia’s Zewdi Million Yehualashet in the footsteps of pacemaker Victor Kimutai Chumo who led them through the first five kilometres in 14:18. But the 10km clocking of 28:45 suggested the pre-race target was already out of reach. Yehualashet had lost ground at that point, so a Kenyan podium sweep was guaranteed.

Once the pacemaker Chumo pulled out of the race, Koech, Langat and Kimurer went through the 15km point in 43:15 while two-time world marathon champion Kirui ran 16 seconds behind the leading trio. They passed 20km in 57:53 and the key movement came during the closing kilometre when Langat broke away from Koech and Kimurer to cross the finish line victorious in 1:00:52.

Koech – whose only notable performance before today was a 2:18:58 marathon clocking last year - was a surprisingly close second in 1:00:54 while Kimurer also finished within 61 minutes. Kirui, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist, was fourth in 1:01:30.

“My target was to run inside 60 minutes but it was not possible because of the wind,” said Langat, who was contesting just his second race in Spain following an appearance at the 2011 Valencia Half Marathon. “Anyway, the circuit is flat and very fast so I would like to return next year.”

Comment

Under-age Kenyans are being “lured” without their consent or knowledge to compete for other countries, a top kenyan official has said, welcoming a move to stop athletes switching allegiances.

The International Association of Athletics Federations on Monday said it was freezing all new transfers of allegiance, with IAAF president Sebastian Coe saying that the “present rules are no longer fit for purpose”.

Kenya has suffered particularly badly: since 2003 more than 60 Kenyan-born athletes have given up their nationality to run for another country, most notably for Bahrain and Qatar.

During the Rio Olympics, 20 former Kenyans competed for adopted countries, including Ruth Jebet, who upset her former compatriots to win the first Olympic gold medal for Bahrain in the 3,000m steeplechase.

“We fully support the move to put to an end the transfer of innocent young talented Kenyans without justification and due process as the law provides,” a top sports official at the education ministry, Eliud Wambua, has said.

Wambua, also a member of an Athletics Kenya (AK) youth committee, said many under-age children were transferred to other countries without their say-so, often after their parents were “enticed” with money.

“The change of allegiance has been a big blow to this country. Some of our innocent children have been lured away without their knowledge by people masquerading as their coaches, managers and agents.

“Other countries have opened a supermarket on Kenya by taking advantage of the young ones, who sometimes don’t understand they are being forced to forfeit their nationalities.”

Wambua said Kenya had no problem with any athlete trying to earn a living by competing for another country but they must only do so when they are old enough and given clearance by the national federation.

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Kenya is making progress in its efforts towards tackling doping by its athletes, a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) official said on Wednesday.

"Kenya has done commendably well in the fight against doping and putting structures to help in this fight. We are happy with the legislative and legal steps put in place to tackle doping," Rodney Swigelaar, director of WADA's Africa office, told reporters.

Swigelaar is in Kenya with a delegation from WADA and the Norwegian and South African anti-doping agencies to monitor the progress made so far and sign agreements with the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK). The agreement will ensure it gets technical assistance from the Norwegian and South African bodies.

Kenya's middle and long distance excellence has been marred by doping cases involving its elite athletes. Officials estimate the number of positive dope cases at between 49 and 52 in the four years alone.

WADA threatened Kenya with sanctions last year, which included barring them from the Rio Olympic Games.

The Kenyan government subsequently enacted legislation that made doping in sports criminal in the country, carrying with it a fine of up to 3 million Kenyan shillings and three years in jail for those found to have violated doping rules.

Swigelaar said eyes are still on Kenya but he was confident it would overcome the problem.

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Running a marathon in under two hours is not possible, Kenya's Olympic 5000m and world 10,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot has said in response to an initiative to achieve that feat by sportswear manufacturer Nike.

Nike has enlisted Kenya's Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa Bekele and Eritrean Zersenay Tadesse in a bid to break the two-hour mark this year.

"I have no problem with the project, but I am very skeptical about it," Cheruiyot, 33, said.

"The world record can be broken... Kipchoge can do it. The time can still come down from the current (2:02:57), but 1:59:59 is setting the bar too high. They could have set it below the current world record," she said.

"Running a marathon in under two hours is impossible. It doesn't look real. They should have set the bar at slightly under (Dennis) Kimetto's 2:02:57," she said.

Cheruiyot, who won two gold medals at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea, took time off to have a baby before returning to claim the Olympic 5000m title in Rio last year.

She said she would have won the 10,000m as well if her team mates had co-operated, suggesting that Alice Aprot blundered by running too fast too early and leaving Cheruiyot and Betsy Saina on their own.

Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana won in a world record time of 29 minutes 17.45 seconds. Cheruiyot was second and Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba third.

"Olympics need meticulous planning, knowing the advanced level of competition. She (Aprot) declined (our plan) and we did not run as a team," Cheruiyot said.

She is now focused preparing for the London Marathon on April 23 and will run another marathon in September.

"I want to run well in London and I am feeling no pressure, despite the strong line-up. Mary (Keitany) and (defending champion) Jemimah (Sumgong) are there, but because I have not competed with them and I have not run the marathon, I don't feel any anxiety," she said.

"I have just started preparing for the event, I ran my first 40km two weeks ago as part of my preparation. I think it will be exciting," she said.

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