Kenya: Kipchoge - We'll Come Home With the Medals!

1 February 2020

World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge has a simple message to Kenyans and the world: "We shall come with the medals."

This after he was named to lead a mighty Kenyan team to the Tokyo Olympics by Athletics Kenya's selectors on Friday.

And with sprints legend Usain Bolt having hung up his spikes, Kipchoge goes into this year's Olympic Games as the hottest property on the athletic programme.

However, it will be no walk in the park for the "Team Kenya" marathon squad named at Riadha House, Nairobi, on Friday.

The marathon races on the July 24 to August 9 Olympic Games have been shifted from Tokyo to Sapporo city in Hokkaido Prefecture (province), some 831 from the Japanese capital owing to concerns over the sweltering heat and high levels of humidity expected in the Olympics' host city.

The women's marathon race will be run on August 8 with men's race being held on the final day on August 9.

Kipchoge was named alongside World Championships bronze medallist Amos Kipruto and Boston and Chicago Marathon champion Lawrence Cherono.

Bedan Karoki, who finished second in the Tokyo Marathon and fourth in Chicago last year, is on the reserves' list alongside two-time Honolulu Marathon champion and African Games half marathon winner Titus Ekiru. Kosgei will team up with 2018 London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot and world champion Ruth Chepng'etich in a bid to win Kenya's second Olympic gold medal in women's marathon race.

Frankfurt Marathon champion Valary Aiyabei and Sally Chepyego, who finished third in Berlin last year, will be on the reserves.

While naming the team yesterday, AK President Jackson Tuwei said the athletes will proceed for residential training on May 1 at Kaptagat, adding that the technical team that will handle the runners will be named when the camp starts.

Kipruto and Cherono, who term the selection "a dream come true," said they are looking forward to the leadership of Kipchoge in Tokyo as Chepng'etich, Kosgei and Cheruiyot predicted a possible podium sweep.

But they hastened to add that Kenya should be keen to know how the weather will be in Sapporo. Kipchoge, who became the first man to run the marathon under two hours last year at a specially choreographed "INEOS 159 Challenge," welcomed his selection and urged Kenyans to keep fingers crossed and pray for the team.

"It's a great honour to represent Kenya again.

"I want to assure Kenyans and my fans across the world that we shall work hard to ensure that the team achieve what is required in Sapporo. We shall come with medals," Kipchoge said.

"I know it is still a long way to go and anything can happen in between but keep us in prayers."

Kipruto will be representing the country for the second time after winning bronze at the World Championships in Doha last October while Cherono will be making his international debut for Kenya.

"I want to thank Athletics Kenya for the great honour which I should reciprocate with a good show in Tokyo," said Kipruto, who will use Tokyo Marathon on March 1 as hi preparations.

SELF-EXPLANATORY

"While I don't want to talk more, I believe I will be ready, God willing. I am praying for injury-free period and good health."

Kipruto described the team as the best ever.

"It will a big task for us but we should go there as a team. Kipchoge and I have been there before and Cherono's incredible run last season is self-explanatory," said Kipruto.

Cherono said his main focus for now is to defend his Boston Marathon title on April 20 before strategising for Tokyo Olympics.

"It's a great honour to represent Kenya for the first time. This is one of the strongest team to be assembled and I believe we can do it despite the enormous challenge ahead," said Cherono.

"It can be anyone's race but let victory come from Kenya."

"It's a feeling one really can express. It's every athlete's dream to be at the Olympic and here I am heading to Tokyo," said Chepng'etich, who is hoping to warm up for Tokyo with her debut at London Marathon on April 26.

"I know the focus will be on me after my exploits in Doha and I have faith I will deliver again. The team looks good and we can easily sweep the podium places," Chepng'etich said.

The London Marathon battle will be a prelude to the Tokyo Olympics with Chepng'etich, Cheruiyot and Kosgei heading there. "There is a possibility of all of us running personal best meaning that Brigid's world record of 2:14:04 could go," said Chepng'etich.

Cheruiyot is keen to deliver her second Olympic gold, this time around in marathon.

Cheruiyot, who won the 5,000m gold at 2016 Rio Olympics, said she will run one half marathon in March before London Marathon.

WORLD RECORD EXPLOITS

"I will then turn my focus on Tokyo Olympics. It won't be my first time at Olympics or run a marathon. I know all the tricks in training. I will do everything to get good results," said Cheruiyot.

Kosgei said her world record exploits last year in Chicago is a bygone hence won't be no under pressure to deliver in Tokyo.

"I know what to do in training to deliver gold especially with seasoned athletes like Vivian around," said Kosgei, who shattered Paula Radcliffe's 16-year record in Chicago last year in a new time of 2:10:04.

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