IN MONTE CARLO, MONACO
Kenyan athletes dominated the press points here in the countdown to Friday night’s IAAF World Athlete of the Year Awards ceremony with Joyciline Jepkosgei and Mary Keitany garlanded for shattering distance running records in what was a brilliant season on the roads.
Keitany, winner of April’s London Marathon and runner up in New York earlier this month, was rewarded with a golden plaque for lowering Briton Paula Radliffe’s women-only world marathon record on the streets of the British capital, clocking two hours, 17 minutes and one second.
It was a 41-second improvement on the now retired Radcliffe’s previous record set at the 2005 London Marathon.
This season was also an amazing one for Jepkosgei who shattered the world half marathon twice in Prague and Valencia.
In Prague in April, Jepkosgei blew away four record in total - including 10km (30:05), 15km (45:37) and 20km (61:25) - on her way to clocking 1:04:52 for the half marathon, a time she improved to 1:04:51 in Valencia.
She also broke the 10km world record, again, at the Birell Prague Grand Prix, running 29:43 in September to become the first woman to run a sub 30-minute 10km road race.
Accompanied by their husbands Nicholas Koech and Charles Koech, who both double up as their coaches, Jepkosgei and Keitany were handed the golden plaques by IAAF President Seb Coe during an athletes’ forum at the Le Meridien Hotel in the heart of Monaco.
It baffled many athletics specialists that the two athletes were not on the shortlist of athletes for last night’s IAAF Awards at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco’s premier awards and entertainment venue.
Nonetheless both athletes paid tribute to their husband-cum-coaches for being integral to their careers.
“To have a family and to be a champion needs a lot. But having a family to run for give you motivation to do well and to do something better for my children’s future,” said Keitany during a session with journalists accredited to cover last night’s awards ceremony and today’s final session of the IAAF Council meeting.
“I’m happy that my family and children understand what I’m up to when training and they give me all the support that I require in my career,” added Keitany who also runs the 85-room Winstar Hotel in Eldoret town.
Addressing journalists earlier, Jepkosgei said despite the success in her first year of serious global competition, she is not yet about to rest on her laurels and will drive for more.
“My coach always says to me ‘I want you to improve better than the others.’ So every time I want to improve better than the last time,” the 24-year-old Kenya Defence Forces soldier said.
She is already eyeing a return to Valencia for next year’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships as she will, almost certainly, be selected in Kenya’s team to the global 21-kilometre race.
In between the activities at the IAAF Gala, athletes took time off either training, sailing, rock-climbing or playing volleyball on the immaculate Monte Carlo beaches.
FESTIVITIES AND MEETINGS
World 1,500 metre champion Elijah Manang’oi along with silver medallist over the distance from August’s World Championships in London Timothy Cheruiyot – who is also the 2017 Diamond League Series 1,500m champion – and world 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri opted for an early morning run on the well-tended streets of the principality in the company of coach Bernard Ouma who handles Manang’oi and Cheruiyot at the Rongai Athletics Club in Nairobi.
They were joined by Obiri’s husband Tom Nyaundi.
Several IAAF committees, commissions and advisory groups will hold meetings today to wind up a successful season remembered, among others for the successful hosting of the IAAF World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi in July.
The championships’ chief executive Mwangi Muthee along with National Olympic Committee of Kenya President Paul Tergat are among the special guests invited by the IAAF for this weekend’s series of festivities and meetings.