Ex-New York marathon champion to compete in Hengelo ahead of Tokyo Olympics

(Xinhua) 09:04, July 06, 2021

NAIROBI, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Former New York marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor will compete and train in Hengelo, Netherlands as part of his preparations for the Tokyo Olympics Games.

Kenya's head athletics coach Julius Kirwa said on Monday in Nairobi that the former World Cross Country champion will head to the Dutch city from Wednesday to compete in selected races over the 3,000m distance.

The coach said it was critical for Kamworor to gauge himself in short distance races to test his speed prowess ahead of the Olympics, which starts on July 23.

"Kamworor is heading to Hengelo for training and to compete. He will step down from his traditional 10,000m distance to 3,000m so as to gauge his speed. We want him to test himself and see where he is on the scale," Kirwa told Xinhua in Nairobi.

Kenya will line up former World Cross Country champion Kamworor, Rodgers Kwemoi and Weldon Kipkurui Langat in the 10,000m race at the Olympics hopeful to regain the elusive gold medal.

Kenya last won gold in the 10,000m race back in 1968 through Naftali Temu in Mexico City.

But Kirwa is optimistic, the new team, which is a blend of youth and experienced athletes will weather the storm from Ethiopia, Uganda and America challenge.

"We have a blend of young and ambitious prodigies, who will complement Kamworor to learn and exploit his experience in the Tokyo Olympics," Kirwa added.

The coach noted that in a normal cycle, athletes mature and wither, form comes and goes, momentum shifts and stars periodically align.

However, he feels that Kenya has the right blend of stars to alter the matrix and break the jinx to clinch the gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Reigning champion Mo Farah of England will not defend his title in Tokyo as he failed to make the team.

However, Kirwa has pointed out world 10km record holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda as a main hurdle in Kenya quest to win gold.

"Cheptegei is a strong candidate, but we will work on a strategy to fix him. I believe in my team and Kamworor is eager to do well because this might be his last track competition before he turns his focus fully on the marathon," he said.

Kamworor, who skipped the World Championships in Doha in 2019 to focus on reclaiming his title at the New York marathon, said the allure of having an Olympic gold medal dangle down his neck is too strong to ignore.

"I have had several challenges in the past one year. Our mentor Eliud Kipchoge challenged me to make the team so that we can go to Tokyo together," Kamworor told reporters in Nairobi.

At the Rio Games, Kenya won 13 medals - six gold, six silver and one bronze - all in athletics.

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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