Marathon legend Catherine Ndereba identifies what contributed to Kenya’s poor showing in women’s marathon at World Championships

© Eric Baraza.

ATHLETICS Marathon legend Catherine Ndereba identifies what contributed to Kenya’s poor showing in women’s marathon at World Championships

Joel Omotto 13:30 - 26.08.2023

Catharine Ndereba was not happy after Kenya’s Rosemary Wanjiru and Sally Kaptich finished sixth and seventh on Saturday having gone to Budapest with hopes of winning a medal

Two-time world marathon champion Catherine Ndereba has blamed a lack of mental strength and poor tactics for Kenya’s poor showing in the women’s marathon at the World Championships on Saturday.

In the scorching heat of Budapest, Kenya’s best ranked athlete was Tokyo Marathon champion Rosemary Wanjiru who finished sixth followed by Barcelona Marathon silver medallist Sally Chepyego Kaptich while Enschede Marathon winner Shyline Jepkorir did not finish the race.

It was a disappointing outing for Team Kenya who went to Budapest with high hopes of winning a medal, especially from Wanjiru who is the fastest woman this year after clocking 2:16:28 when she won in Tokyo.

The race was won by Ethiopia’s Amane Shankule (2:24:23) who edged out compatriot Gotytom Gebreselase (2:24:34), the defending champion settling for second, while Morocco’s Fatima Gardadi (2:25:17) clinched bronze.

Wanjiru and Kaptich kept pace with the leading pack for most of the race until the final 10km when the Ethiopian runners took off and never gave them a chance, the Kenyan contingent unable to recover while seeming to struggle in the hot conditions.

“Running is 75 percent is mental, 25 percent is physical. So, if you are not mentally ready, you will have it difficult,” Ndereba said on KBC TV when asked what could have led to the poor showing.

The four-time Boston Marathon champion, who won her two world titles in Paris 2003 and Osaka 2007, then blamed the team officials for not preparing the Kenyan runners well for the brutal conditions in Budapest.

“There something called conditioning. I am sure Team Kenya officials knew the conditions to expect and could have advised the runners properly. They should have trained for those conditions. Like doing their long runs around 1pm or 2pm,” she added.

“Their hydration should also have been improved. They needed to take water while running, not a lot, but periodic sips at the water points.”

Kenya last won a marathon title at the World Championships in 2019 through Ruth Chepng’etich and were unbale to defend their title at last year’s edition in Eugene when Judith Korir won silver.

It has been a poor championship for Kenya in Budapest so far, with the country only boasting of three medals after Faith Kipyegon won gold in 1,500m, Daniel Simiu clinched sliver in 10,000m before Abraham Kibiwott claimed bronze in 3,000m steeplechase.

Kipyegon and Emmanuel Wanyonyi carry Kenya’s hopes for gold in the 5,000m and 800m respectively on Saturday before Sunday’s final day where the men’s marathon, men’s 5,000m, women’s 800m and women’s 3,000m steeplechase will take centre stage.