NAIROBI, Kenya, August 26- Kenya’s former World 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei has decided to give up the try to move up to the 1,500m distance next season and will continue to fight for her place in the competitive two-lap distance.
Jepkosgei, who failed to start at the World Championships in Moscow because of a tendon injury, said in Eldoret that she is ready to work her way back to best form and contest at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 as a 800m runner.
“I have thought over the move up to 1,500m, but after seeing my understudy Eunice Sum win gold in 800m at Moscow worlds, I must say, it jolted me to remain in the two-lap race.
“She needs the protection from me and I will be there to guide her through. We have come a long way with her and it was a surprise even to me to see her sprint to the victory,” she said.
Jepkosgei does not turn 30 until December 13, and believes Sum performance has turned what was a poor season for her camp to success.
“I couldn’t believe that she will make it. I had told her to keep in front and maintain her cool until the final straight. I saw her surge forward away from the Mariya Savinova of Russia and realised she will win,” said Jepkosgei.
In fact not even Sum believed in her potential that she could conquer the world in Moscow. A semi finalist in the 1,500m distance during the last Worlds in Daegu 2011, she went to Moscow keen to make the final and let the rest be decided by fate.
Well, she had her skills and tactics right leading from start to finish. Sum went ahead to prove her win in Moscow was no fluke when she won at the Stockholm Diamond League last week.
“It is great that Kenyan women have dominated 800m race since 2006. I won gold in Melbourne Commonwealth and in Osaka in 2007. Then came Pamela Jelimo who did what she did and now, for some time we faded off the stage. But we are back. I want to defend the gold Jelimo won in Beijing at the 2016 Rio games,” she said.
“My advice to upcoming athletes is to remain loyal to the doctrines of athletics, train hard and win easy. It is the only way and Kenya will always have somebody new emerging at every big championships.”
For Jepkosgei, the championships in Moscow were a bitter sweet pill to swallow. Out with a tendon injury is a nightmare to any sportsperson. But again she had to remain optimistic that her project – Sum and Winnie Chebet – would emerge from her shadows to make their names in the distance. Well they did and that was sweet news to her.
Meanwhile, Women’s Olympic 800m Champion, Mariya Savinova of Russia has admitted she underestimated the strength of Sum at the finals in Moscow, she said in a statement.
“I never believed Sum could break her own lifetime best by a full two seconds. It was clear that Alysia Montano could not keep that pace going all the way to the finish, but I certainly made a mistake with the Kenyan,” said Savinova.
She explained, “You need to turn it on with 150m to go because it is hard for everyone at the finish. This is exactly what happened but I had allowed Sum to get slightly in front of me. I made a mistake. I admit it.”