Kirui to defend title as Kipchoge, Brigid miss out

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World marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui and two-time world champion Ednah Kiplagat headline a star-studded nine-man squad selected to start preparations for the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar between September 28 and October 6.

Kiplagat will be returning to the World Championships for the fourth time, having won gold at the 2011 (Daegu) and 2013 (Moscow) editions and a silver at the 2017 show in London.

She will be joined by 2016 Paris marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho, who will be making Team Kenya for the third time after appearances at the 2015 World Championships and 2016 Olympic Games where she finished 20th and 86th respectively.

Two-time Istanbul Marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich, who finished 13th at the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships, has also been drafted into the team alongside Sally Chepyego, who finished fifth at the Paris Marathon in April.

In the men’s team, Kirui will be joined by Amos Kipruto, who finished second to Eliud Kipchoge when he set a new 2:01:39 world record, two-time Paris Marathon champion Paul Lonyangata, Laban Korir, who placed sixth at the Barcelona Marathon and Ernest Ngeno.

Missing out on the team are world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, newly-crowned London Marathon champion Brigid Kosgei and Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono.

Athletics Kenya (AK) vice president in charge of the competition, Paul Mutwii,  said despite many Kenyans expecting the notable absentees to be in the team, they had to pick a team from those who honoured their invitation.

“I know many Kenyans wanted to see the likes of Brigid, Kipchoge, Cherono and Vivian Cheruiyot in the team but we only went with those who heeded our call,” said Mutwii after a meeting with the marathoners at Athletics Kenya headquarters yesterday.

“I think the biggest problem we have in our sport is the managers. Some athletes were ready to make the team but changed their minds at the last minute. Some say they have other things to attend to, while others have lined up races with a few training their eyes on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.”

Mutwii said they will drop one of the male runners but by virtue of being the defending champions through Kirui, Kenya will field four runners in the men’s race. However, they will field only three in the women’s version but the female reserve runner will travel with the team.

The team is expected to assemble for residential training camp in Kaptagat in early July under coaches Richard Metto and Joseph Cheromei.

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