With only one marathon victory in two attempts, Florence Kiplagat had little expectations of making the Kenya team to the Olympics in London this August.
However, she got a good surprise on Tuesday when Athletics Kenya (AK) included her in the provisional team of six, who will start training for the London Olympics.
"I feel happy that AK had faith in me and gave me this chance to run in the Olympics. But it came as a surprise to me because I did not expect to be called to the team. I have only run two marathon races and that is not good enough compared to what other women have done in their career," Kiplagat told Xinhua late Thursday in Iten where she is training.
Kiplagat first completed marathon at Berlin last September was a sensational success. After passing the halfway point in 1:10:11 she reach the finish in 2:19:44.
That made her the ninth fastest woman in history and third fastest Kenyan of all-time behind London marathon champion Mary Keitany 2:19:19 and Olympic silver medallist Catherine Ndereba 2:18:47 (Chicago, 2001).
Last April in Boston Kiplagat ran 1:11:42 at halfway and 1:42:59 at 30km, but she did not finish the race.
"I have just finished one marathon. The other in Boston, I did not finish and that is all I have in the distance. But getting this call has inspired me and I will give it all my effort if I make the final three," she said.
Kiplagat, who is also the World Half Marathon champion winning in Nanning City, China, was the fifth fastest half-marathoner in the world in 2010 with a time of 1:07:40 when she won at Lille in France.
The next month Kiplagat won the gold medal at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Nanning with a time of 1:08:24. On a hot day in Sapporo, Japan last July she claimed another victory in 1:10:29.
Kiplagat was also the gold medallist at the 2009 IAAF World Cross-Country Championships. In 2006 she won silver medal at 5000m in the IAAF World Junior Championships. Her best times on the track
include 14:40.14 for 5000m and 30:11.53 for 10,000m.
But that will count for nothing when she parades in London in April for her third marathon race.
"I have got the invitation to run in London in April and I believe, it will go well. Besides I want to do well and win the race in a fast time so that I enhance my chances of being named in the final team for the Olympics."
"It will also give me a huge bonus to get the feeling of London before the Olympics. But for the time being the focus is on April and the rest will have the pieces falling in place," she added.
To help her prepare for the London marathon race in April, Kiplagat said she will be travelling to Rome for a road race on Feb. 26.
"I will only have one race to gauge my preparedness. There after I will come back and train for London," she said.
Concerning the team selected, Kiplagat said it was the strongest and they have the marathon gold to lose in London.
"Everyone is strong in that team and we happen to come from Iten all of us. So we will have easy coordination and training under our respective coaches and maybe converge together in the final two weeks to harmonize the strategy for the Olympics," she said.
Kiplagat will however, forfeit her chance to defend the World Half Marathon title in Bulgaria in October.
"I will only be focusing on the full marathon distance. The half marathon will take a break and somebody else can take over. Maybe in 2013, I may return in the 21km distance," she said.