Thu, 07 Jul 2022

NAIROBI, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Kenya has selected its "strongest marathon team" for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games that begin on July 28.

2021 Amsterdam Marathon winner Jonathan Korir, who trains at world record holder Eliud Kipchoge's Global Sports Communication camp in Kaptagat, in Kenya's northwest, leads the men's team with a personal best time of 2:04:32 clocked in the Dutch capital.

"We are grateful to have been selected in this team and we shall not disappoint," Korir told reporters in Eldoret on Saturday when the team was unveiled by Athletics Kenya (AK).

Philemon Kacheran, who ran his lifetime best time of 2:05:19 in Valencia last year, is also capped. In October 2018, when two-time Olympic champion Kipchoge became the first man to run the marathon distance in under two hours in Vienna, Kacheran was his pacemaker.

Eric Kiptanui (2:05:47, Siena, 2021) and Michael Githae (2:07:51, Fukuoka, 2021) round off the men's team. Kenya is seeking a second marathon gold in the Commonwealth Games after John Ekiru Kelai won at the 2010 edition in Delhi, India.

Maurine Chepkemoi, who also won in Amsterdam last year alongside Korir with a personal best of 2:20:18, headlines the women's team which also includes 2021 Rotterdam Marathon champion Stella Barsosio (2:22:08).

Margaret Wangare, winner of the 2020 Los Angeles Marathon and 2019 Honolulu Marathon, and Purity Changwony (2:22:16, Siena, 2021) are also in the squad.

Kenya is seeking a third women's Commonwealth marathon in the last four editions, after Irene Jerotich and Flomena Cheyech won the 2010 and 2014 titles.

Namibia's Helalia Johannes won the last edition in Gold Coast, Australia in 2018.

"We want to promise you that we shall come back with the medals, and not only the gold, but we shall fight for a clean sweep," Wangare told reporters.

AK handed the team to the National Olympics Committee-Kenya (NOCK) with officials confidently saying that they had selected the "strongest team" to win the marathon double in Birmingham.

The local governing body has been faced with the major challenge of picking teams for the Commonwealth Games and the World Athletics Championships, the latter competition coming just days ahead of the Birmingham event.

"We enjoy a good relationship with NOC-K and want to make sure that we give them the best team so that preparations can start early," AK vice-president Paul Mutwii told the media.

The rest of the Kenyan track and field athletes reported to camp in Nairobi on Saturday.

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