Kenya's Jemeli ready for Tokyo Marathon after injury

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NAIROBI, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Former Beijing Marathon champion Valary Aiyabei Jemeli has recovered from a back strain and a waist injury she picked up on her way to victory in Frankfurt last November.

The 29-year-old, who is on the reserve bench for Kenya's marathon team at the 2020 Olympic Games, said she's now ready to gauge her speed and endurance as she leads Kenya's team in Sunday's Tokyo Marathon.

Jemeli, who won in Beijing in 2018, clocking a time of 2:21:38, has gone on to win Frankfurt and Eldoret marathons, while she was third in the women-only Nagoya Marathon. But she hopes her strong performance in training will help her win in Tokyo against strong opposition.

"It has been tough for me since November. I felt some pain from my waist on my way to winning in Frankfurt, then I aggravated it in training. However, I have recovered from the injury that kept me out of training. Now I am ready for the challenge in Tokyo. I want a title in a Marathon Majors city," said Aiyabei.

The World Marathon Majors (WMM) are run in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York, with the Olympic Games and the World Championships also joining the group in their respective four-year cycles. This will be Jemeli's second shot at a WMM race after she finished third in the 2017 Berlin Marathon behind compatriot Gladys Cherono and Ethiopia's Ruti Aga.

Alongside Jemeli, Kenyan fans will be happy to cheer on Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, a Kenyan-turned-Israeli, and Selly Chepyego Kaptich in the race in Tokyo, which is only open to elite runners owing to the threat of coronavirus.

Jemeli still harbors high hopes of competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

"The dream of my debut Olympics in Tokyo is much alive. It will be good for me to make it, though it is dependent on another athlete failing to make the trip. If I make the trip, it will be the first time I will be running for Kenya and I can't wait," said Jemeli.

World record holder and winner of London and Chicago marathons Brigid Kosgei will anchor the Kenya team to Tokyo Olympics, accompanied by 2018 London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot and World marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich. Enditem

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