Kenyan's Istanbul Exploits Shine Bright in the Gloom of Lockdown

For those who have interacted with Ruth Chepng'etich, she comes across as a quiet, submissive lady.

Yet beneath the laid-back demeanour of this petite, short lady is an indefatigable will to excel and an irresistible desire to trespass the boundaries of success.

Amidst the gloom that permeated throughout the country in this coronavirus period, Ruth was the bright spark, which gave millions of Kenyans a reason to smile as she clocked 1:04.01 to set a new world record for women at Sunday's Istanbul Half Marathon.

As sports stakeholders, we were mightily disappointed by the government's decision to suspend all sporting activities in the country as part of new measures to reduce the ravaging third wave of the virus.

Starved of sporting action, Istanbul was a perfect opportunity to satisfy our hunger -- and our representatives in the Turkish financial capital did not disappoint.

It was an Easter holiday to remember; the sight of Ruth punching the air as she crossed the finish line was an ecstatic emotion shared by all of us back home.

Befittingly, world half marathon record holder Kibiwott Kandie had only a few minutes earlier set the tone for a glorious morning by clocking the course's best record of 59:35.

I tip my hat to second-placed Geoffrey Kamworor who gave Kandie a run for his money before eventually clocking 59:38.

A neck-to-neck battle was the perfect way for Kamworor to return to the international scene after his injury woes last year.

I am optimistic he is on his way to regaining his red-hot form that so him rule the track, the road and cross country.

Equally deserving of plaudits is Roncer Kipkorir who finished third in the men's race to complete a 1-2-3 sweep for Kenya.

Worth mentioning in the women's race is World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri who goes down in history as the fastest debutant in a half marathon.

Indeed, their Istanbul exploits are testament of sports potential as a unifying factor and a beacon of hope in turbulent periods.

We pray and hope that our good fortunes in Istanbul are only an appetizer for the sumptuous victories to come in major international events.

Despite the lull in sporting activities, Athletics Kenya will keep an eye on athletes training in preparation for major events, such as the World Relay Championships, Africa Senior Athletics Championships and of course, the Tokyo Olympics, among others.

For now, let us bask in the glory shining upon Kenya, courtesy of Ruth and Co.

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