Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Beijing Lone Wolf Langat Fit for London Charge

Nairobi — Olympic champion Nancy Jebet Langat might have won her battle with a knee injury, but she faces another race against time to get the qualification mark for the London Games.

Langat, a lone wolf in the Kenya team in Beijing four years ago, surprised the world, when she emerged from the periphery to clinch the gold medal, the second for a Kenya woman at the history of the Games after Pamela Jelimo in 800m.

"The last two weeks have been a nightmare to me. I have struggled with the knee injury for s long. I raced at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi with it and aggravated it. Now I have to battle and get into shape and see what lies in store for me in regards to London Games," said Langat in Nairobi on Thursday.

Langat has been in and out of hospital in Nairobi, Milan and Munich and finally she is seeing the result of the intense rehabilitation.

"Now I can run again. The doctors have cleared me. I have not competed in the local circuit or abroad, which leaves me with the task of seeking the qualifier time at the national trials on Saturday," said Langat.

That means Langat must run within the 4:06.00 set mark to be assured of a slot in the Kenya Olympic team.

"I have no choice but just do that. I want to defend my title in London," she said.

In the absence of Langat, world indoor 3,000m champion Helen Obiri has emerged as the heir apparent to the throne.

Obiri, a traditional 1,500m runner, will be the favourite in the four lap race as the she takes on Lagat, Viola Kibiwot, Eunice Sum, Faith Chepng'etich and Irene Jelegat.

Meanwhile, former world 10,000m champion Linet Masai has also vowed to redeem herself by winning a berth in the 5,000m race during the Kenyan Olympics trials on Saturday in Nairobi.

Masai has failed to replicate the same form she has shown in the last three years, which saw her crowned champion in the longest track competition and clinching three silver medals in the women 8km race at the World Cross Country Championships.

After failing to complete the 10,000m race last week, Masai has no choice but to run at full throttle to make a cut in the Kenya team.

Masai bowed out after developing stitches in her stomach with three and half laps remaining though she looked very strong in the race.

The race that was eventually won by double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot, with Joyce Chepkirui, the Africa cross country champion, settling for second while world 10,000m silver medallist Sally Kipyego was third. The trio will represent Kenya in London over the 10,000m distance.

However, both Kipyego and Cheruiyot will be seeking a slot in the 5,000m as well as Masai, Sylvia Kibet, Grace Momanyi, Priscah Jepleting, Linet Chepkirui and Pauline Korikwiang.

"My target was to make the 10,000m team. Now I'm frustrated and I have not made up my mind if I will run the 5,000m race.

"I do not like the event, because it will be run a snail speed and then with maybe a lap or so to go, everyone will burst out in speed. This kills me off. But I have not thrown in the towel yet. I still need to compete at the Olympics," said Masai.

Cheruiyot said last week that she is expecting to win also in the 5,000m after her triumph in the 10,000m. Cheruiyot, who was fifth in Beijing in the 5,000m has proved to her maturity and will be eying her third Olympics.

Cheruiyot, 14th at 5000m in Sydney 2000, was not on the Kenyan Olympic team in 2004 when Meseret Defar picked up the Olympic gold but by the time they met in Osaka 2007, she was beginning to emerge strongly, taking the silver behind the Ethiopian, and then in Berlin 2009 took the world title herself, with her rival settling for bronze.

She failed to beat Tirunesh Dibaba in Beijing where she wound up fifth. But she showed her form when she raced to gold in Berlin in 2009.

She improved that to double gold in Daegu in 2011 winning both 5,000 and 10,000m at the expense of Defer and Kenyan Sylvia Kibet.

"The 5,000m is my speciality and I intend to win here in my quest to double up at the London Olympic Games," she said.

Kibet, the world silver medallist, might stage a surprise and clinch the championships, which give her the favourite tag ahead of the Olympic Games in London, which start on July 27 to Aug. 12.

Kenya won 14 medals in Beijing - six gold, four silver and four bronze.

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