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Peres Jepchirchir crosses the finish line in World Record time. PHOTO/World Athletics

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Kenyan Olympic teams set for bubble training, Jepchirchir added to Marathon team

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 23 – Kenya’s Olympic teams are to start training in specialised bubble camps early March in the run-up to the Tokyo games, officials said on Tuesday.

The camps are to start on March 2 and will see athletes confined to specific areas as they train, to counter the spread of COVID-19.

“The athletics long distance runners will be based in the high-altitude training region around Eldoret, while the team sports, including the men’s and women’s rugby Sevens, volleyball and Taekwondo do will be based at the Kasarani stadium,” the secretary-general of Kenya’s National Olympic board Francis Mutuku told AFP.

“The aim of the bubble camps is to cut down the amount of travelling by athletes back to their families from training, and reduce the risk of exposure to the still raging COVID-19 pandemic.”

A total of 87 Kenyan sportsmen and women have already qualified for July’s Tokyo Olympics, with the number expected to increase as the new sporting season gets underway.

Kenya hopes to take a team of 100 athletes to the rescheduled games which will be held between July 23 and August 8.

Mutuku said the athletes would be tested frequently for Covid-19 while they are in the camp, which will be closed off to outsiders.

“All the qualified athletes will be tested before they are admitted into the bubble camp.”

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Kenya, a world athletics superpower finished 15th and as the top African nation at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, with a total of 13 medals: six gold, six silver and one bronze.

Kenya also topped the overall medals table at the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing, for the first time in its history with seven gold, six silver and three bronze medals.

Meanwhile, the 2020 Valencia Marathon winners Peres Jepchirchir and Vincent Kipchumba have been included in Kenya’s marathon team for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Making the announcement Tuesday, Athletics Kenya senior vice president, Paul Mutwii, disclosed that Kenya will be represented by four athletes each in the men and women’s categories.

Jepchirchir, the World Half Marathon champion and Half Marathon World record holder, now joins World Marathon champion, Ruth Chepngétich, Marathon World record holder, Brigid Kosgei and multiple World champion and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic 5,000m gold medalist and 10,000m silver medalist, Vivian Cheruiyot.

Kipchumba will team up with Olympic Marathon champion, Eliud Kipchoge, World Marathon bronze medallist, Amos Kipruto and 2019 Boston Marathon winner Lawrence Cherono.

Four athletes, who were named as reserves in the original team that was named in January last year before the Tokyo Olympics were postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been dropped.

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