Is Ruth Chepngetich Kenya’s dark horse in Doha
Analysis, Gilbert Kiprotich
It is exactly one week before the IAAF World Championships kicks off in Doha, Qatar where Kenyans will bid to reaffirm the country as the one of the greatest athletics nations on the planet.
Kenya will hope for a golden start at the September 27-October 6 showpiece with the women marathon lined up on the midnight of opening day.
The trio of two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat, the 2016 Paris Marathon winner Visiline Jepkesho and the reigning Dubai Marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich will fly the Kenyan flag in the event.
The 40-year old Kiplagat remains the pre-race favourite owing to her huge experience at the global stage having won two back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2013 before settling for silver in the last edition held on London United Kingdom.
Despite being the youngest athlete among the trio, can Chepngetich rise to the occasion at the biggest stage?
The athlete who hails from Kericho County will be making her debut in Kenyan colours after a dominant display in road races for the past three seasons.
At just 25, Chepngetich has risen in her road racing career clinching various half marathon titles including; Istanbul, Adana, Milano and Paris.
In the full marathon, Chepngetich captured two consecutive Istanbul marathon titles in 2017 and 2018.
The 2019 season has offered Chepngetich even more success as she ran to victory at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in a personal best of 2:17:08.
She also set a new personal best in half marathon of 1:06:09 at the Manama Half Marathon back in March.
Speaking to Citizen Digital, Chepngetich revealed that her preparation has been going well and thus she is raring to leave a mark in Doha.
“So far I am happy everything is going on well in that I don’t have any problem and my body is also responding very well. It feels good to represent my country and I am hoping to make my country proud,’’ she said.
The Ngong-based athlete pointed out that they will be working as a team together with Kiplagat and Jepkesho in order to deliver the gold medal Kenya lost in 2017 to Rose Chelimo of Bahrain.
“The team is very strong and we are hoping for the best results but it is also upon an individual to work upon his strengths and weak points ahead of the competition,” added Chepngetich.
Marathon team coach Richard Metto has played down the high temperatures in the Middle-East claiming it won’t affect their plans.
“It is true that Doha is humid but that is not an issue because all the athletes will be subjected to same conditions. It is upon the athletes to plan well and I don’t see any problem with the team so far. We have a very strong team and our main aim is to retain the men’s gold and reclaim the women’s gold,” said Metto.
The marathon team is the first group to leave for Doha on September 22 with the other athletes set to travel on September 24.