Kenya’s Chepkoech eyes African 3000m steeplechase title

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Nairobi, July 22 (IANS) Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech has warned her rivals she plans to run even faster at the Africa Championships in Asaba, Nigeria, just weeks after breaking the world record in the 3,000m steeplechase.

The 27-year-old will lead Kenya’s entourage in the water and hurdle race at the continental championships, which will also feature world junior champion Celliphine Chespol and former world champion Hyvin Kiyeng, reports Xinhua news agency.

“It is good to speculate on my next target. Maybe my next target could be to run under 8:40 (minutes),” said Chepkoech on Sunday.

Chepkoech’s world record run in Monaco comes 10 months after a miscalculation at the London World Championships in 2017 saw her make a wrong turn, forcing her to re-jump one of the hurdles and settle for a fourth place finish.

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However, she has been in top form this year. Her mission became clear soon after she had won the Paris Diamond League event by an extraordinary margin.

But nobody was prepared for her world record assault in Monaco a week later, and she showed her prowess by taking eight seconds off the world record of 8:52.78, finishing in 8:44.32.

“I wanted to break the world record; that was the plan from beginning of the season,” Chepkoech told Xinhua. “And I was aware that the best chance would be in Monaco, thanks to the weather, the crowds and the whole environment. And this plan worked well.”

“I was thinking maybe I could break 8:50 but I was not at all dreaming about 8:44. And this time could still be improved, I’m sure.”

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Chepkoech has her pacemaker Caroline Tuigong to thank, after the 2006 world junior champion led according to plan through the 1,000m mark.

The previous record was held by Kenyan-turned-Bahraini Ruth Jebet in Brussels in 2016.

The next stop for Chepkoech will be in Asaba, Nigeria, when she leads the Kenyan team to the Africa Championships to be held between August 1 and 5.

–IANS

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