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Kiplagat seeks to make history at the Olympics

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NAIROBI, Kenya, January 16- Portugal’s Rota Mota remains in a class of her own as the first ever and so far the only simultaneous holder of the Olympics and Worlds women marathon titles.

    That feat could however, be matched this summer if the reigning world titleholder, Edna Kiplagat has her way.

    Having led the first ever podium sweep from the same country at a major championship in Daegu last September where Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop shared the podium, Kiplagat, 32, has two chief aims for 2012.

    “First is to go and improve my (best) time of 2:20:46 in London and if selected by our federation for the Olympics, go there and help in bringing the Olympics title back home for the first time,” Kiplagat, who finished third at the Kenya Police Cross Country Championships on Saturday said.

    She took part at the event to test her knee after suffering the now famous fall after getting entangled with team mate Cherop as they went for water 38km into the World Championships race.

    “I feel great about the performance I did here today since my knee is good now after several treatment and I hope to have a good year since so far, I have been training well and I’m ready to compete for my country and do as well as I did last year,” she added.

    In a commendable show of comradeship that won lavish praise, Jeptoo and Cherop ran side by side with Kiplagat, who came to Daegu as the New York champion and favourite for the race, to allow her to recover before she sped off for victory with just over a kilometre left.

    That is the kind of team that the runner who finished third in London last year where she ran her career best wishes Athletics Kenya will select for the Olympics.

    “If they select a good field that can run together like the one we had in Daegu, I’m sure we can bring back gold. For me, my aim is to prepare well for the Olympics after London by not taking part in any other race if selected,” the world champion declared.

    Kiplagat cites London champion and half marathon record holder, Mary Keitany, Berlin champion, Florence Kiplagat as well as her team mates from Korea as the runners who posses the potential of ending Kenya’s women Olympics marathon duck.

    “In Beijing, the men finally ended their search for marathon gold and that is what has inspired us to go for it in London. It will not be easy but I know we have the runners capable of doing what we did in Daegu,” the runner who is enjoying a late career flourish explained.

    Coached by her husband Gilbert Koech, Kiplagat burst to the limelight by winning silver at the 1996 World Junior Championships in Sydney, Australia over 10,000m and two years later at the same event in Annecy, France, she bagged bronze.

    Having won the Los Angeles Marathon in early 2010 in only her second race over the distance before taking the New York crown later that year to establish herself as a force in ultimate distance running.

    Portugal’s retired legend Mota took the 1987 world title in Rome before adding the Olympics title a year later in Seoul.

    The closest Kenya have come to having their national anthem played at the Olympics for women marathon victory was at the 2004 and 2008 editions in Athens and Beijing where twice World champion, Catherine Ndereba, returned silver.

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