Kenya’s Kiplagat targets Olympic ticket, medal in Rio

Nairobi, Feb 16 (IANS) After winning the Chicago marathon, Florence Kiplagat would have rested assured of her spot in the Olympic marathon team. This could be an ideal case in any other country, but not in Kenya.

The 28-year-old, who returned home with mixed feelings after she failed to improve on her world record in the 21 kilometre distance but won the race, will now turn her focus to the London Marathon, which will serve as the Kenyan marathon trial for Rio Olympics, reports Xinhua.

Kiplagat’s time of 1:09:19 on Sunday was more than four minutes outside the half marathon world record of 1:05:09, which she set in Barcelona in 2014.

“It was hard for me to break the world record because the winds were so strong. Moreover, I had just recovered from a cold and was not in my best form. But I wanted to win and am happy I did just that,” she said on Monday.

“I was not in shape for another record. But now I will head to Iten to keep on with my build-up for the London Marathon in April. I would like to make the Kenyan team for the Rio Olympics and try to get my first Olympic medal,” Kiplagat added.

“I’m extremely grateful to the people of Barcelona for their support and hospitality. Even though it was impossible for me to achieve the (world) record, they supported me. Maybe next year, if I return I will go under the one hour and five minute barrier.”

Kiplagat will face stiff challenge from a lean group of Kenyan runners all eyeing the three slots to make the team to Rio.

They include New York marathon champion Mary Keitany (2:18:37), fourth at the London Olympics in 2012, Berlin marathon winner Gladys Cherono (2:19:25), former London marathon winner Priscah Jeptoo (2:20:14) and world marathon silver medalist Jemima Sumgong (2:20:48).

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