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Olympic probables, the profiles- Women

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NAIROBI, Kenya,January 18- Following the announcement of the London Olympics marathon probables on Tuesday, here are the profiles of the selected female runners.

EDNA KIPLAGAT

Mother of three, Edna Kiplagat nee Ngeringwony is among few successful female runners who have managed to find the intricate balance between a demanding running career and equally taxing family commitment.

Living with spouse, Gilbert Koech, also a marathoner of repute (2:13:45) in Iten and Boulder, Colorado when they are in the USA, Kiplagat, 32, has never been far away from the apex of female distance running since bursting to the national team in 1996.

Her career took off like a light when she won silver (3,000) at that year’s World Juniors in Sydney, Australia and two years later in the Annecy, France edition, Kiplagat once again medalled by winning bronze.

She met her future spouse, Koech, who won the 2009 San Antonio Marathon and established their family, limiting her appearances as she stepped up to senior ranks at the start of the next decade.

Class is permanent and in 2006, Kiplagat made a return to the Team Kenya fold when she made the national team for the Fukuoka World Cross in Japan where she placed 13th in the senior race.

At the time, she had established herself as a road runner of status and made her marathon debut in Las Vegas where she stopped the clock at 2:50:20 for tenth in December 2005.

It is in 2010, she exploded to the limelight, winning the Los Angeles marathon in March (2:25:38) before claiming her first Marathon Majors crown in New York in November.

In only her second world-class marathon the Eldoret, Kenya native broke away from debutants Mary Keitany and Shawano Flanagan on the rolling hills of Central Park to win in 2:28:20.

She returned to New York City in March 2011 to run 69 minutes flat (second place) at the NYC Half-Marathon.

Her Los Angeles victory made her the first with marathon wins on both coasts of United States and Kiplagat won a $100,000 (Sh7.8m) bonus for being the first finisher to the tape as she was given an 18 minute 47 second head start over the men’s field.

The following April, Kiplagat made an almost five minute improvement on her personal best with a 2:20:46 finish at the 2011 London Marathon. It was the fastest third place time for any women’s marathon in history.

She was selected by Athletics Kenya for the World Championships in Daegu, Korea, where she arrived as favourite.

She proceeded to run a sensational final 12km to win the gold medal. Despite a fall at one of the late water stops, she went on to win by 17 seconds for her second Majors victory.

However, the fall would have lasting effects as her knee failed to recover in time for a defense of her New York crown that was taken by Ethiopia’s Firehiwot Dado.

Husband Koech ran his career best at Las Vegas in January 2005 before winning the 2009 San Antonio Marathon.

They have two sons, Collins Kiprop and Carlos Kipkorir, and daughter Wendy Jemutai, who have been staying with family members in Kenya.

D.O.B: 15 September 1978

PERSONAL BEST: 2:20:46 (London, 2011)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

August 2011- 1st, World Championships (2:28:43)
April 2011- 3rd London Marathon (2:20:46/PB)
November 2010- 1st, New York City Marathon (2:28:20)
March 2010- 1st, Los Angeles Marathon (2:25:38)
March 2006- 13th World Cross (senior women)
December 2005- 10th Las Vegas Marathon (2:50:20)
August 1998- 3rd, World Juniors (3,000m)
August 1996- 2nd, World Juniors (3,000m)

FLORENCE KIPLAGAT

A junior protégé turned ultimate distance star, Florence Kiplagat Jebet is arguably one of the most gifted female runners anywhere despite a number of injuries that have derailed her progress.

Reputed for her aggressive running, Kiplagat had the making of a star from the very first time she represented her nation when she returned home with the women 5,000m silver medal from the 2006 Beijing World Juniors.

She made her step-up to senior running a momentous occasion when she finished fifth at the Mombasa World Cross a year later in Mombasa before injury and maternal duties saw her disappear from the scene.

Kiplagat returned to the limelight with daughter Aisha and news she was married/engaged to fellow athlete and London Olympics marathon probable, Moses Mosop at the latter end of 2008.

With the couple showing tremendous signs of returning to top shape, wagging tongues were sent to overdrive when they completed crushing victories at the 2009 Trials for the Amman World Cross in Nairobi in March.

At the global event, Kiplagat duly played her favourite role to perfection, catching up with long time leader Linet Masai and overtaking her in the last incline to win Kenya’s only second senior women’s gold and a first since 1994.

Mosop faded in the men’s race to finish outside the top ten as the pre-event talk of the first husband/wife World Cross winning couple came to a cropper.

In 2010 she was the fifth fastest half-marathoner in the world with a time of 1:07:40 when she won at Lille in September and a month later Kiplagat won the gold medal at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships in Nanning with a time of 1:08:24.

She made her full marathon debut in Boston in April 2010 but despite passing the half way mark in 1:11:42 and being timed at 1:42:59 at the 30km mark, Kiplagat bowed out of the race.

On a hot day (29°C) in Sapporo, Japan in July 2011, she claimed another victory in 1:10:29 before she declared her intention on her second marathon in Berlin was, ‘to just finish the race’.

But her modest expectations bred sensational success. After passing the halfway point in 1:10:11 she ran a negative split to reach the finish in 2:19:44. That made her the ninth fastest woman in history and third fastest Kenyan of all-time.

Her best times on the track include 14:40.14 for 5000m and 30:11.53 (Kenyan record) for 10,000m.

Kiplagat and Mosop are now the fastest husband-wife marathoners in history.

D.O.B: 27 February 1987

PERSONAL BEST:
2:19:44 (Berlin, 2011)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

September 2011- 1st Berlin Marathon (2:19:14/PB)
April 2011- DNF, Boston Marathon
October 2010- 1st World Half Marathon (1:08:24)
March 2009- 1st, World Cross (senior)
March 2007- 5th World Cross (senior)
August 2006- 2nd, World Juniors (silver)

SHARON CHEROP

Sharon Cherop Jemutai assumed her place in history when she ran 2:29:14 for bronze to complete the first ever podium sweep of the women’s marathon at the World Championships in Daegu, Korea.

Although team mates Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo cut the tape before her on a sunny summer morning in the resort South Korean city, Cherop emerged with top honours for exhibiting high calibre comradeship that won her many admires.

Some 37km had been done with favourite Kiplagat taking the lead as they came for a water point when Cherop cut in and tripped her team mate, occasioning a nasty fall.

She consequently helped Kiplagat to her feet and together with Jeptoo, bid their time to allow her to recover before she once again burst forward to complete the victory.

Later, she was to say taking advantage of the dramatic turn of events would had left her scarred for life and she was satisfied with whatever she got as she helped her nation make history.

Cherop claimed her stature as one of the top marathoners in the world in 2010 with a huge win in Toronto.

There she edged out Tirfi Tsegaye by one second to improve her personal best by almost six minutes. Her Toronto win was the fastest ever run in Canada and beat the former record established by Lidia Simon at the World Championships in Edmonton.

She was not done as she once again flirted with victory in her first Marathon Majors in Boston the following spring in April 2011.

For much of the race, the diminutive Cherop was one of the last three contenders. She only fell back in the final miles and still finished just six seconds behind the winner and four out of second places. Her third place time of 2:22:43 was one second better than her career best from Toronto.

Coming into Boston, Cherop had two pivotal moments in her career: finishing third in the 5,000m at the World Junior Championships in Santiago, Chile before she made the Kenyan team for the 2002 World Cross in Ireland where she returned 10th in the junior race.

Cherop runs for the Defence Forces and says she will work in the army after her professional running career slows down.

She is married to Matthew Kibowen Kosgei, who is a 2:10:57 marathoner, and the couple has a 2-year old daughter named Natalia. Cherop said when she is not training she enjoys reading novels and swimming.

D.O.B: 16 March 1984

PERSONAL BEST:
2:22:43

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

August 2011- 3rd, World Championships (2:29:14)
April 2011- 3rd, Boston Marathon (2:22:42)
September 2010- 1st, Toronto Marathon (2:22:43)
April 2010- 1st, Hamburg Marathon (2:28:38)
October 2009- 3rd, Stanchart Nairobi Marathon (2:33:53)
April 2008- 4th, Country Music Marathon (2:39:52)
October 2007- 3rd, St. Paul Minneapolis Marathon (2:38:45)
March 2002- 10th, World Cross Country (junior)
August 200- 3rd, World Junior Championships (5,000m)

PRISCAH JEPTOO

In five career marathons Priscah Jeptoo has three first place finishes and two seconds.

Her most recent effort was an impressive negative split run at the 2011 World Championships to secure the silver medal.

Jeptoo had a previous strong run in South Korea as she won the Goyang Half-Marathon on March 6 in a personal best 1:10:26.

A month later she won the Paris Marathon in 2:22:55, the second fastest time ever run there.

Having seriously started competing in 2008, it did not take long for Jeptoo to scale the heights of distance running excellence.

She won the Porto Marathon in May 2009, breasting the tape in 2:30:40, a commendable effort for a debutant.

In Daegu, she was part of the history making Kenyan line-up that together with gold winner, Edna Kiplagat and bronze medallist, Sharon Cherop, completed a first ever podium shut-out in the ultimate distance race at a major event.

During the race, she shelved her winning ambition to wait for the winner who had suffered a nasty fall at 38km to get her wind back before they all staged an internal battle for the medals.

She concluded her year by taking the New Year’s Eve Sao Paulo Run in Brazil, after edging out a tight battle with Ethiopia’s track specialist Wude Ayalew in the 15km event where she stopped the clock at 48:48.

D.O.B:
26 June 1984

Career Best:
2:22:55

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

August 2011- 2nd, World Championships (2:29:00)
April 2011- 1st, Paris Marathon, (2:22:55/PB)
November 2010- 1st, Turin Marathon (2:27:02)
April 2010- 2nd Padua Marathon (2:30:53)
November 2009- Porto Marathon (2:30:40)

LYDIA CHEROMEI

Lydia Cheromei is a veteran distance runner who has flickered on and off in a career that set off on the international stage at the barely believable age of 13.

Then, she rose to fame with a win in the junior race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 1991 and her inclusion in the Olympics women marathon probables was the only outstanding shock of the 12 runners named.

To put it into perspective, she received the nod ahead of among others, Boston Marathon champion, Caroline Kilel and the Commonwealth titleholder Irene Jelagat, both who are still very active.

After her junior burst, Cheromei, who won bronze in her World Cross title defence in Boston in 1992 following her bronze win at the 1990 World Juniors over 10,000m, before finishing fourth at the same event in the subsequent edition in Seoul, took a break from running citing burn out.

Cheromei returned to gain a ticket for the Atlanta Olympics where she was 10th in the 10,000m race before making the team for the 1997 Worlds where she was fifth and once again, she took time off.

She was to resurface in the Kenyan team for the World Cross in 2000 where she finished fourth in the senior race followed by another Olympics showing in Sydney where she moved up to fifth in her speciality.

A year later at the Oostede World Cross, Cheromei medalled with her third finish in the senior women’s long race.

She did not compete from then on to 2004 when she returned to win silver at the World Half Marathon Championships due to private problems, and missed another two years of competition after a positive doping test in 2006.

The Singore Girls alumnus returned in 2008 and began competing in marathons, followed by the Italian Coach Gabriele Nicola, taking a debut win at the Amsterdam Marathon.

She won Kenyan trials for the 1991 World Championships, but was considered too young to compete in Tokyo and was coached at the time coached by Sister Christine Heverin of Singore Girls Secondary School

In 2006 Cheromei was found guilty of clomiphene doping. The sample was delivered on 24 February 2005 in an out-of-competition test in Eldoret.

She received an IAAF suspension from May 2005 to May 2007 where Cheromei claimed she was taking the substance under the prescription of her doctor as she was undergoing fertility treatment at the time of testing.

She gave birth to a daughter, Faith Chelagat, seven months after the doping test but the ban remained as she did not inform the relevant authorities of the information.

Cheromei won the 2008 Rotterdam Half Marathon with a course record of 68:35; the previous record (69:13) had been set by her in 2004 when she also won the event.

She had a successful marathon debut by winning the 2008 Amsterdam Marathon and timing 2.25.27. In the 2009 Rotterdam Marathon she finished 2nd behind Nailya Yulamanova of Russia.

She ran at the 2011 Dubai Marathon and secured second place behind Aselefech Mergia – her time of 2:23:01 marked an improvement upon her previous best of more than three minutes.

Cheromei broke the course record at the Prague Half Marathon in April and her winning time of 1:07:33marked a career improvement for the distance of well over a minute.

The following month she made a successful return to the city, winning the Prague Marathon in a course record time of 2:22:34, again a personal best.

In October she won the Marseille-Cassis Classic with a course record run of 1:08:23 hours but managed only fifth at the Delhi Half Marathon the following month.

D.O.B: 15 May, 1977

CAREER BEST:
2:22:34

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

1990- 3rd, World Junior (10,000 m)
19910- 1st, World Cross (junior)
1992- 3rd, World Cross (junior)
1995- 5th, IAAF Grand Prix Final (3000 m)
1996- 10th, Olympic Games (10,000m)
1997- 11th, World Cross (senior)
1997- 5th, World Championships (5,000m)
1997- 2nd, IAAF Grand Prix final (5,000m)
2000- 4th, World Cross (senior)
2000- 6th, Olympics Games (5,000m)
2000- 4th, IAAF Grand Prix Final (3,000m)
2001- 3rd, World Cross (senior)
2004- 2nd, World Half
2008 – 1st, Amsterdam Marathon
2009- 2nd, Rotterdam Marathon
2011- 2nd, Dubai Marathon
2011- 1st, Prague Marathon

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