Athletics Athletics

‘Eldoret Express’ geared for Beijing run


JANETH-SEMENYANAIROBI, March 11- Despite ‘new ultra modern coaches’ rolling majestically into the women 800m ‘bus stop’ in the last decade, the Eldoret Express or Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei as she’s officially known has barring a knock here or there; dutifully served the female two-lap international route now into the 15th year since she broke through with silver at 2001 Africa Juniors.

Her distinguished ‘service’ has minted 14 career medals, the most decorated Kenyan track queen of all time and having been forced to remain in parking for 2013 Moscow World Championships by injury, Jepkosgei is determined than ever to ensure she does not miss the Beijing ticket this summer.

“Right now I’m trying to be there in Beijing. My first aim is to be in the final and if I get any medal, it will be historical for me and something big,” the genial veteran, 31, said at her training base in Eldoret as she embarks on revving up for another campaign.

Having risen to end the Maria Maputo Express Mutola dynasty by handing her back-to-back defeats at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Jekosgei has run in the shadow of new coaches who have denied her the middle step of the podium.

-‘Suspension trouble’-

First came compatriot and Kapsabet Express Pamela Jelimo who forced her to accept Olympics silver in Beijing in 2008 before South Africa’s Polokwane Express Caster Semenya, the then Africa junior champion ended her Worlds’ title defence in Berlin in 2009.

Russia’s Mariya Saminova clinched the next Worlds and Olympics titles in 2011 and 12 before Jepkosgei’s protégé; Eunice Sum took the top medal in Moscow in the event where the injured ‘Eldoret Express’ sat out.

After bombing out of last year’s Commonwealth Games at the semi finals, Jepkosgei was back among the medals at the African Championships in Marrakech, Morocco by winning 800m silver behind Sum before the pair joined forces for silver in the 4x400m relay.

Now fully recovered from the ‘suspension’ trouble in the shape of the Achilles tendon injury that has slowed her progress in the past two seasons, Jepkosgei is quietly confident of a record fourth podium run at the biennial IAAF track and field global showpiece.

“Training is going on well. Going to Beijing gives me different motivation since it was somewhere I competed in a tough race against Pamela, getting that silver. I’m in a different age compared to 2007 and 2008.

“We have been working the last two years with my coach learning something different to what my body can take. It is not like when I was still young and able to do everything,” the seasoned track campaigner declared.

Besides her famous ‘daughter’ in athletics Sum, Jepkosgei has taken Agatha Jeruto, the African junior medallist who is tipped to be the next big thing in women 800m from the long production line of Kenya’s distance running conveyor belt under her wing.

And her mission for the year is to ensure the world champion, Jeruto and herself sweep three of the four available slots in the Kenyan side before mounting a three-pronged assault for the medals in the final at Beijing.

“Sum and Agatha are still young, with a different approach. It is a challenge for me although I know being with them, it motivates them since we challenge each other. Personally, I like to assist people and share what I’ve done.”