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15 July 2015

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Korir, Koech Seek to End Ethiopia Dominance at China's Changsha Marathon

2019-10-28 Download Print Comment
NAIROBI, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Ronald Kipkoech Korir and Nancy Jebet Koech are hopeful they will end the Ethiopian stronghold on the marathon titles at the Changsha, capital of China's Hunan province on Sunday.
 
After returning to fitness, Korir is bubbling with confidence he will regain his top form and take the challenge to his opponents as he seeks his second marathon win in 2019. He won in Muscat Marathon in Oman in January, clocking 2:13:36, but failed to replicate the same zeal at the UNICEF Geneva Marathon, where he finished sixth.
 
The 28-year-old owns a 2:07:29 personal best time from his sixth-place finish at the 2014 Frankfurt Marathon but has failed to break 2:10 since a 2:09:01 in Seoul three years ago.
 
"It is a new challenge for me as I debut in China," said Korir on Friday. "Marathon is like an expedition and running in a new city offers you a challenge against time and your own mind. I have no pressure heading to China and I am hopeful I will return home with a gold medal."
 
He will, however, be up against Ethiopia's defending champion and course record holder Fikadu Teferi. The 26-year-old Teferi clocked 2:11:13 to win in Changsha last year, edging Tafese Delegen by 12 seconds and improving the course record by nearly four minutes.
 
It was Teferi's fourth title over the classic distance following victories in Beirut, Moline, and Columbus. He also took top honors at the 2019 Marrakech International Marathon in January setting a personal best of 2:08:43.
 
Abraham Girma, 33, is the fastest in the field thanks to his 2:06:48 career-best achieved in Amsterdam in 2012. However, he has not managed to dip under the 2:10 barrier since finishing second in Hengshui in September 2013 and his last marathon title dates back to 2017 when he won the Metz Marathon in 2:12:27.
 
In the women's race, Koech is spoiling for a fight as she seeks to win in China after finishing fifth at the Hangzhou marathon last year. She clocked 2:29:30 to finish fourth in Daegu two years ago and went on to take the title of Malaga Marathon in December 2017.
 
Koech believes she can challenge for the top honors. "It is down to how good I have trained. 
 
I believe in myself and I am optimistic I can destroy the opposition in Changsha. I want to improve my performance and place my name up for selection for the Tokyo Olympics," she said.
 
She will be up against champion Bekelu Beji who returns to the Chinese city eyeing to retain her title.
 
Beji trimmed more than one minute off her best time to win the Changsha title last year with a new course record of 2:32:56. Seven months ago, the 20-year-old rising Ethiopian further improved her time to 2:28:21 to finish second in Wuxi city.
 
Source: Xinhua