Fresh from finishing second at the Tokyo marathon Bernard Kiprop Kipyego has set focus to Olympic Games in Brazil but he insists Athletics Kenya should do a honourable approach to name marathon team in advance and avoid trials.
The former world junior world cross country silver medalist, Kiprop timed 2:07.33 to finish second at Tokyo race behind Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa (2:06.56) at the end of World marathon majors (WMM) series said if the selection will be done through trials then that will mean marathoners will run two marathons which is very tiring.
“Marathon is not like any other races like track or cross country. It is a hard race and if we are subjected to trials, then it will mean we are running more than it is expected,” said Kipyego in Eldoret.
Popularly refereed to us junior in athletics circles, Kipyego led other Kenyans Dickson Chumba (2:07.34) followed by Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich (2:07.46) while double world marathon champion Abel Kirui who returned from an injury came in 5th position cloaking 2:08.6.
His nick name ‘junior’ in athletic circles is due to his young-looking physique, is no doubt mentioned but his lifestyle and determination do not match his small body structure.
He said marathon team should be selected early enough to enhance proper preparations for the Rio Games.
“If the team is selected early, athletes get better time to prepare. It’s for this reason that Kenyans win in world marathons compared to Olympics and other championships, this happens due to poor preparations. Olympics team should be named earlier to ease Preparations. Such events should start like five months earlier.”
The double Amsterdam marathon champion’s script is very distinctive from all marathoners of all times standing out after he earned his maiden victory at 2014 TSC Amsterdam marathon after competing in ten marathons, defending the same in 2015.
“My focus has shifted to Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and that will be my defining moment in marathon. Currently, am in good shape, even you can witness,” said with his ever smiling face during the interview.
He has run twelve marathons winning two but the breakthrough came in 2014 when he chalked up victory at the TSC Amsterdam Marathon which he defended in 2015 beating three time and course record holder Wilson Chebet. He says it has been a long journey full of ups and downs.
“I have run many marathons and I have experience in it and competing at Olympics will be an added advantage in my life. I lack Olympic medal in my medal cabinet and this may be my good year of tiding,” added Kipyego.
“It has been a long journey that I want to take it to the next level as I train my focus in running in WMM with Olympics playing a big role in the majors. Though am not ready for WMM jackpot after they increased from five to six trips one has to make but I want to build my name in the marathon majors. I know it’s no easy but I will try,” Kipyego said.
He defended his title in 2015 and it was a moment for cheers for Kipyego who finished third in Boston and Chicago marathons.
“Defending my title was not easy for me was not an easy task but it was due to focus. With both wins, I ran with Mr. Amsterdam (Wilson Chebet, nicknamed after winning Amsterdam for three consecutive years). Last year, I was not afraid of anybody but I was sure that even if I don’t win, I will
be on the podium,” said Kipyego.
He remembered 2015, the year he won his first marathon in life meant a lot to him especially after competing in 10 marathons.
He had to atone for his poor showing at the 15th IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, in 2013.
As a junior, Kiprop posted brilliant performance where he won silver medal at the 2005 World Cross-Country Championships in St Etiene in France and Kenya Prisons coach Abraham Kiplimo then referred him as ‘*kijana ya mwaka chache (a man with few years), a junior literally.
“I will not drop my junior tag in my athletics life. The name has been used for a long time and I love to hear my team mates in our camp (One-4-One in Kaptagat) call me. This is because I performed well while running in junior races,” he said.
Despite the huge presence of junior athletes in the camp, run by Mitchel Boeting of The Netherlands, Kiprop said guards his ‘junior’ nick name since, “I am identified by my neighbours in our Kong’asis Village, Uasin Gishu County.”
“I am trained by former Olympics silver medalist Patrick Sang and share the training with Emmanuel Mutai and Eliud Kipchoge I was always soul searching on my first marathon win,” said Kiprop.
Kiprop lowered his time from 2:06.29 to in Amsterdam to 2:06:22 lowered the same to 2:06:19 this year, making it his personal best.
“In Amsterdam, I wanted to break the course record held by Chebet (2:05:36) but weather was not favourable. I would have done the better than that,” explained Kipyego.
When he was drafted into the world championships in Moscow in 2013, said that the weather was good only that they got a short time to train together before the competition.