Athletics Kenya has announced an impressive squad of athletes to represent the country at next month’s IAAF / EDF Energy World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham, UK on Sunday 11 October.
Kitwara’s reprieve - men’s team
Sammy Kitwara finally has his chance to don the national colours and as the second fastest runner in the world this year leads the Kenyan men’s team to Birmingham.
Along with Gideon Ngatuny (who has pulled out of the Birmingham squad – see later), earlier this summer Kitwara forfeited his automatic selection for the Kenyan team at 10,000m at the recent IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin after competing in unsanctioned road races in July immediately after winning the 10,000m Kenyan trials from which his selection was gained.
Kitwara has all the credentials to win in Birmingham. The winner on 13 September of the Rotterdam Half Marathon in his PB of 58:58, the second fastest time in the world in 2009, the 22-year-old is the only person to have beaten Haile Gebrselassie this year when defeating the Ethiopian maestro at the half marathon distance in The Hague on 14 March.
Kitwara is joined in the team by Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich who is the third fastest man in the world over the half marathon this year thanks to his second place 58:59 at the 2009 RAK Half Marathon back in February.
Bernard Kiprop Kipyego made a magnificent 59:34 debut win in the 2009 Berlin Half Marathon and more recently has run faster for a fourth place finish behind Kitwara in Rotterdam (59:10 – sixth fastest time in the world in 2009) which deservedly sealed his berth in the squad.
Wilson Kwambai Chebet’s 59:15 for fifth in that stacked race of quality in Rotterdam is also rewarded with a slot in the World Half Marathon team.
Martin Kimutai’s splendid performance at the Great North Run last Sunday means he is selected as a replacement for Gideon Ngatuny, who opted out of the team citing previous racing commitments. Until Kimutai finished second behind Martin Lel in the Great North Run, he was relatively an unknown quantity but Kimutai is also a two time winner of Hastings Half Marathon in the UK and San Blas Half Marathon in the USA.
Keitany aiming for top rung of podium - women’s team
The 2007 World Half Marathon silver medallist MaryJepkosgei Keitany who gained that medal running impressively if distantly on the heels of the World record of Lornah Kiplagat (NED) in Udine, Italy, has the gold medal in her sights especially in the absence of the former Kenyan the three-time reigning champion who is injured this year.
Keitany is the fastest athlete in the world over half marathon in 2009 after clocking 1:07:00 in Lille, France, though her PB from Udine in 2007, 1:06:48, is a lot quicker, in fact the fourth fastest of all time on courses applicable for record purposes.
Japan based Philes Moraa Ongori, is the fourth quickest runner of the year thanks to her 1:07:50 which she clocked in the RAK Half Marathon at the end of February, and has been included in the women’s team that also features another Japan regular Filomena Cheyech whose 1:08:44 win in Yamaguchi 15 March makes her the twelfth quickest this season.
Two places behind her on the world lists is another of the Kenyan team, Peninah Arusei, the only survivor from last year's squad, who took second place in Milan in 1:08:47 on 5 April.
Caroline Cheptanui Kilel is the final member of the squad and last took part in the World Half Marathon in 2005 when finishing 16th, and has recently set her personal best at the distance when winning in Glasgow, Scotland in 69:03 on 6 September.
Saddique Shaban for the IAAF
Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich
Bernard Kiprop Kipyego
Wilson Kwambai Chebet
Mary Jepkosgei Keitany
Peninah Jerop Arusei
Caroline Cheptanui Kilel