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Kipsang, Keitany eye Olympic slots

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NAIROBI, Kenya, April 25 – Returning London marathon winners, Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany are optimistic of making it to the final list of the Kenyan team to the London Olympics to be named by Athletics Kenya on April 25.

Speaking Tuesday upon their arrival, Kipsang who won the race in 2:4.44 ahead of compatriot Martin Lel and Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede was upbeat about his chances of leading the Kenyan charges in search of gold at the event.

“Personally, I’m content with my performance since it was my first time competing in the World Majors and beating the strong field gives me confidence ahead of the Olympics,” said Kipsang who came short of Emmanuel Mutai’s 2011 record by just four seconds.

“In Frankfurt I missed the record by seconds same as London but with time as I gain experience I will handle the pace and might just break this record.”

“It may not be at the Olympics since the course will be a tough challenge with the twists and turns but depending on the weather and how the athletes will react to the conditions, it may change the chances of edging closer to it,” affirmed Kipsang.

The womens’ winner, Keitany who successfully retained her title finishing in a new personal best of 2:18.37 was wary of the course too but hoped that Kenya could finally win the elusive gold.

“At the Olympics, we expect some changes in the looping course which might affect my plans in addition to the changes in the weather conditions but am positive that with intensive training, the gold will come home,” said Keitany.

Keitany who was accompanied by her husband and son led the Kenyan contingent to clinch the top five slots ahead of world champion Edna Kiplagat and world silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo with Florence Kiplagat and Lucy Kabuu completing the five places.

World champion Abel Kirui who was sixth was in high spirits expressing delight at the performance of the Kenyan team.

“The race was quite competitive and quite a challenge to me but am happy that we managed to outwit the bulk of the Ethiopian team and although I didn’t make it to the podium, I’m optimistic there is something to look forward to in the near future,” Kirui said on his chances of selection.

Edna Kiplagat was glad with her performance which went according to her prior plans with the hope of another duel in London against Keitany.

“I actually feel great that I improved my time from 2:20 to 2:19 although if I’m selected to the team, I consider Keitany as the athlete to beat but I will have to work on my speed and try to catch up with her,” Kiplagat divulged.

In the beginning of the year, Athletics Kenya (AK) had named a provisional squad for Olympics consideration.

The women’s squad includes, Mary Keitany, Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo, bronze winner in Korea Sharon Cherop and Lydia Cheromei were named as the women’s probables.

Marathon record holder Patrick Makau, Boston and New York champion Geoffrey Mutai, Abel Kirui, Chicago champion Moses Mosop, Wilson Kipsang and last year’s London winner Emmanuel Mutai were in the men’s line-up.

The women’s team has not won a gold medal since a marathon for female runners was introduced at the 1984 Olympics with only Catherine Ndereba coming close winning silver in 2004 and 2008.

The men prevailed for the first time at the 2008 Beijing Games, but tragedy followed shortly when the champion Samuel Wanjiru, died last year after a fall from a balcony at his home in circumstances that still remain unresolved.

AK will name the final team of six- three male and an equal number of female contestants.

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