NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20- History-maker Jemima Sumgong says she is not yet done as she sets her sights on next year’s London IAAF World Championships after winning Kenya’s first Olympic gold in women’s marathon in Rio.
Sumgong, 31, who has a busy schedule next season, said her targets will be to defend the London Marathon title as well as challenging for the World Championships title.
“I feel that I’m really in good shape and winning the Olympic gold has given me a lot of motivation. The next thing on my mind is go to London Marathon and defend my title and go into the World Championships and win by doing that I will have accomplished my mission,” Sumgong told Capital Sport when she returned to a heroin’s welcome from Rio at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Friday night.
Sumgong, the only gold medallist to arrive back in the country from Rio was greeted by a rapturous welcome with traditional dancers breaking into Kelenjin songs of victory as she emerged from the arrivals unit.
Waiting with open arms was her husband and coach, Noah Talam and her daughter Shalegyne Jemutai accompanied by other family members as well as Uasin Gishu county governor Jackson Mandago, who fed the new champion in town with the traditional Kalenjin fermented milk Mursik.
“We feel very happy to see her achieve this target of winning the marathon gold. As a family it gives us happiness because it is something we have been working on for a long time. I’m proud of her because at first, I was ready for any medal. Now that she’s gone on and made history, I’m lost for words,” her husband Talam told Capital Sport as he welcomed the love of his life back home.
Sumgong revealed that she braved scorching conditions in Rio to bag the gold, but also added the flat racing course made it easier for her to contain the pressure.
She said the Kenyan team that also featured world silver medallist Helah Kiprop and Visline Jepkesho had to sacrifice for one to win and ensure the elusive gold comes to Kenya for the first time.
Sumgong pulled off with 1km left from Kenyan-born Eunice Kirwa of Bahrain, who bagged silver while reigning world champion Ethiopian Mare Dibaba, who was favourite, settled for bronze.
“We had decided to run as a team and then fight for the medals in the final two kilometres. I think that is what helped me because it was a tough race. I knew Kirwa was a strong finisher and I had to make sure I open the gap early enough as we were in the final kilometre of the race,” Sumgong recalled.
“It gives me a lot of pleasure to become the first Kenyan winner of the women’s marathon in the Olympics and I cannot really recall just how happy I am. It has been a period of hard work and now the results are here. I thank God,” she added.
The Senior Private at the Kenya Air Force is expected to be officially received by her employers in a military ceremony, just like as it happened when she came back home from the London Marathon.
Just minutes after arriving, she was whisked away by members of the Kenya Defense Forces with her family in tow.
The mother of one believes she will be in form to defend her Olympic title in Tokyo 2020, at the age of 35.
“Why not? if I will still be in good shape, which I want to be in, I will go there and defend the title. It is not hard but I will work to see whether I can achieve that,” the soft spoken marathoner said.