Kenyans depart for Paris marathon, eye gold medals

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NAIROBI, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Former World Half Marathon bronze medalist Sally Kaptich and defending champion Paul Lonyangata will be the athletes to beat at Sunday's Paris marathon.

Kaptich, who was second at the Barcelona half marathon in February, leads the women's contest with a fast time of 2:23:15, which she posted in the Ljubljana Marathon in Slovenia. She will be up against compatriot Betty Lempus, Pascalia Kipkoech, Ethiopians Gelete Burka and Azmera Abreha.

"It has been a smooth training period for me. I started preparing for Paris marathon in January and so far, I have ticked all the boxes as I depart for the French capital," said Kaptich on Wednesday in Nairobi.

"I have finished the training program without any injury fears and tested myself in Barcelona, where I was second in half marathon," Kaptich added.

The Kenyan woman is keen to improve on her best time and challenge the course record of 2:20:56, which was set in 2017 by Kenyan Purity Rionoripo. She has a strong line-up of seasoned marathoners to push her.

"There are top names entered in the race but I will be doing my best because I also want to lower my personal best in the race. I have never competed in Paris and I'm really excited to be among the few from the country who will be running on Sunday. I used the Barcelona Half Marathon to gauge myself. I was able to work on the weak points that I saw and I'm just hoping for the best," said Kaptich.

In the men's race, Lonyangata, who became the first men's runner in 29 years to claim back-to-back Paris marathon titles after he successfully defended his crown in the French capital last year clocking 2:06:25, seeks to inscribe his name in the race history by winning it a third time.

"I will do my best to defend my title," he said. "The conditions were hotter last time, but hopefully it will be colder to inspire me to run faster," said the 26-year-old.

To propel him to fast time, Lonyangata will battle Augustine Choge, Hillary Kipsambu, Ishmael Bushendich, Barselius Kipyega and Morris Gachaga. Ethiopians challenge will come from Asefa Mengistu and Yemane Tsegay.

Choge, who trains with the Global Sports Communication, said he hopes to do well on Sunday as he is still acclimatizing to marathon races which he began taking part in just recently.

Choge, a track specialist now turned marathoner, is also on a recovery path after he failed the test of Chicago streets last year to drop out of the race midway.

"I developed a problem last year during the Chicago Marathon which forced me to drop out. But I have overcome it and done my training well. I want to perform better," said Choge. Enditem

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