Kenya marathon team dilemma as top stars Keitany, Kiplagat decline invite

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-17 21:21:50|Editor: Song Lifang
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NAIROBI, May 17 (Xinhua) -- London marathon champion Mary Keitany has no hope of representing Kenya in any international competition after she was overlooked in her bid to compete at the Rio Olympics.

Speaking from Iten, Keitany said she was devastated after the coaches overlooked her.

"It was not right. They wasted my plans and made me wait on them. I was not happy at all and that is why I was not going to accept this offer to compete at the World Championships. I consulted my management and we agreed it was best for me to stay away, and focus on other assignments," she said.

Keitany missed out on Olympic selection after finishing ninth at the London Marathon last year with Kenya opting to place her in the reserve bench and selected world marathon silver medallist Helah Kiprop, 2016 London Marathon winner Jemima Sumgong, who went on to win gold in Rio Olympics, but tested positive to banned EPO, and 2016 Paris Marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho.

Keitany has since moved on and reestablished herself as the top marathon runner in Kenya by winning in London in April in a new world record of two hours, 17 minutes and one second. She also won New York marathon in November.

These performances according to Keitany were energy supping and she is not in right fitness to contest for the titles in London too soon in August.

"My body needs some rest, having broken the world marathon record in April 23, besides running my fastest half marathon race in February, it is not easy to pick another race too soon. Maybe I need another two months and New York will be a better place to run.

"I am tired and I don't want to embarrass my country by failing to win in London," said Keitany.

Two other athletes named in the Kenya team, Florence Kiplagat, the winner in Chicago has also declined the invite saying she has other engagements.

Kiplagat like Keitany was also overlooked despite finishing third in London Marathon last year for the ticket to Rio Olympics.

This now leaves the team with only two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat, who is fresh from winning Boston Marathon, and reserve athlete Purity Rionoripo, the reigning Paris Marathon champion.

Athletics Kenya vice president Paul Mutwii has said they will push the deadline for confirmation to Friday to see if more athletes will agree to represent the country in London.

The men's team has London Marathon champion Wanjiru, who has already accepted the task and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge while the third athlete is Wislon Kipsang.

However, Kipsang had already said he was preparing for Berlin Marathon in September.

The reserve team has Boston Marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui and the Tokyo Marathon silver medallist Gedion Kipketer.