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Kamworor aims to conquer Valencia : The standard Sports

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Geoffrey Kamworor, Moi International Sports Stadium, Kasarani, June 18, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Valencia Marathon Trinidad Alfonso EDP, a World Athletics Elite Platinum Label event, returns today and as usual the organisers have brought together a mouth-watering line-up, headed by Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor.

The city of Valencia has witnessed a number of world records in recent years – at 5000m, 10,000m, 10km and the half marathon – and organisers aim for Valencia to be the epicentre of the running world again this morning.

Undoubtedly, all eyes are on the three-time world half marathon champion Kamworor, who turned 29 last month.

The Kenyan ace is now fully recovered from the injury which prevented him from competing at the Tokyo Olympics and his last outing was a promising 27:01.06 10,000m at the altitude of Nairobi during the Kenyan trials before he got injured.

Once recovered, the two-time world cross country champion focused exclusively on his build-up for Valencia, where he should far improve his relatively modest 2:06:12 lifetime best set on his debut in Berlin back in 2012.

Kamworor has great memories of Valencia, as he became a commanding world half marathon champion in the city back in 2018. “Valencia is the city of running, the atmosphere is special,” he said.

Reflecting after the injury, Kamworor’s coach, Patrick Sang, said: “To me, Geoffrey came back stronger physically but also mentally. He is a more professional athlete now. I do not set any target for athletes like Geoffrey, or any other athlete actually, because setting targets is putting pressure. I believe that serious athletes like them, they have the willingness to give their best and that’s always what we should ask from them.”

A large group of pacemakers – headed by Alexander Mutiso, Bernard Ngeno and Victor Chumo – will target a steady 2:55 pace to go through the half marathon in 1:01:30, on schedule to break the course record of 2:03:00 set last year by Kenya’s Evans Chebet.

Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono should be one of Kamworor’s stiffest opponents. The 33-year-old was runner-up last year in a career best of 2:03:04 and finished just outside the medals at the Tokyo Olympics with a fourth place to his credit.

The Ethiopian contingent is also strong as it comprises four athletes to have dipped under the 2:05:00 barrier during their careers: Herpasa Negasa, Kinde Atanaw, Abebe Negewo and Chalu Desu.

The former boasts a 2:03:40 PB set in Dubai in 2019 but he has barely competed since then, while Atanaw took the victory in Valencia in 2019 thanks to a 2:03:51 performance, although he could not go faster than 2:11:00 in his only appearance so far this season in Prague.

As for Desu, he finished sixth last year and will be looking to bounce back after a below-par outing in Chicago two months ago, while Negewo, eighth in 2020, will be making his debut at any distance this year.

The other sub-2:05 athlete on show is Tanzania’s Gabriel Geay, who ran 2:04:55 in Milan last May and is fresh from a season’s best of 1:00:16 at the Valencia half marathon six weeks ago.

The women’s cast is led by Ethiopia’s Guteni Shone, holder of a career best of 2:20:11 set in Dubai a couple of years ago, while her season’s best is 2:21:46 to finish runner-up in Prague in May.

The 30-year-old will be joined by her compatriots Azmera Gebru.

The Kenyan squad includes 2:21:26 athlete Bornes Kitur, who ran barely six weeks ago in Rotterdam and will be eager to bounce back from her 2:30:41 clocking there, plus debutante Dorcas Tuitoek, a 1:06:33 half marathon specialist, and Nancy Jelagat, holder of a quick 1:05:21 clocking in the shorter distance.



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