Veteran athletics coach reveals why Kenya named Paris Olympics Marathon team seven months early

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ATHLETICS Veteran athletics coach reveals why Kenya named Paris Olympics Marathon team seven months early

Joel Omotto 07:09 - 07.12.2023

The coach, who settled on the star-studded provisional marathon squad for Team Kenya, has explained how the country will ensure their objectives are achieved at the Paris Olympics.

Veteran athletics coach Julius Kirwa has explained why Kenya selected its marathon team to the Paris Olympics over seven months before the games.

Athletics Kenya unveiled a formidable provisional team of 20 marathoners (10 men and as many women) on Monday with the team having been selected in November as the country seeks to begin early preparations.

The star-studded team has marathon great Eliud Kipchoge, world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, Boston and New York Marathon champion Hellen Obiri as well as three-time world half marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir among the big names included and Kirwa has given an insight into the thinking behind the early unveiling.

“We have named the team early because we want to know those who will accept and then they must be controlled heading into the new season,” said Kirwa.

“Once they accept, we will tell them that we will be controlling their movement. They should not do certain things without our blessings.

“We have to agree if you feature in a certain race, how many months will it take you to recover and the kind of competition also matters. We do not deny them an opportunity to run but there must be an agreement with all parties involved.”

With the team set to be whittled down to five each with three women and as many men making the final squad plus two reserves on either side by January, those who will make it to Paris will have to choose carefully the events to feature in the next season.

The Paris Olympics will take place between July 26 and August 11, 2024, meaning Tokyo (March 3), Paris (April 7), Rotterdam (April 14), Boston (April 15) London (April 21) are the top marathons that those selected will have to choose from to feature in before the Games.

Kiptum already announced that he will be in Rotterdam next year and it remains to be seen if Kipchoge will choose to start his season in London where he has won on four occasions or try out the other races before heading to Paris.

The list also has runners who have signed up for London, Boston and Rotterdam previously who might want to test themselves there before the Olympics while some might opt to sign up for the Paris Marathon to get a feel of the French capital.

Besides Kipchoge and Kiptum, Vincent Ngetich, second at the Berlin Marathon this year, Rotterdam Marathon runners-up Timothy Kiplagat, former Chicago and Boston Marathon champion Benson Kipruto, Bernard Koech, two-time New York Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor, Cyprian Kotut, 2022 London Marathon champion Amos Kipruto and Titus Kipruto also made the list provisional list.

The women’s team has Obiri, who might seek to defend her Boston title in 2024, and Jepchirchir, who won Boston in 2022 before finishing third in London this year, as well as former world record holder Brigid Kosgei, winner in London in 2020, Tokyo Marathon champion Rosemary Wanjiru, former world champion Ruth Chepng’etich, former world half marathon record holder Joycilline Jepkosgei, Sheila Chepkirui, Judith Jeptum Korir, Selly Chepyego and Sharon Lokedi.

It will be a tough balancing act for both runners and AK as they seek the optimum results in Paris where they are the defending champions in both men’s and women’s races.