Women marathon world record holder Peres Jepchirchir predicts Paris clean sweep

Thursday, May 16th, 2024 00:45 | By
Peres Jepchirchir
Peris Jepchirchir. PHOTO/@USEmbassyKenya/X

Newly crowned women world marathon record holder Peres Jepchirchir is confident that Team Kenya will deliver a clean sweep in the women marathon during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games to be held in August.

Jepchirchir who was on Tuesday feted as the LG/SJAK Sports Personality of the Month of April, said she was optimistic of clinching a second Olympic marathon gold medal, but said that she is well aware that it would not be a walk in the park given that the team comprises of very quality and gifted athletes. Other members of the team are two-times Boston Marathon winner Hellen Obiri and two times Olympics Silver medallist Brigid Koskei.

“We have a very strong team and I believe we can secure a clean sweep. Now it is about training for us and we know we will be ready when the Olympics come. Ethiopia runners will be our main threat at the Games but they don’t stand a chance against this Kenyan team,” she said.

Jepchirchir added: “I have resumed my training, in fact I started last Monday because we have only three months remaining which is a short time when preparing for a marathon. I have started slowly because I just ran a full marathon last month, so I’m currently doing 20 kilometer runs and after that will rush through my program and embark on rigorous training. The course in Paris is tough and to be honest I don’t think I will be able to lower my own world record there, but let’s wait and see.”

Jepchirchir said she was currently enjoying a good form and gets very motivated  with the quality of the athletes in the team.

Meanwhile, on her first visit to Jamaica, Marie-Josee Ta Lou-Smith produced a scintillating run to win the women’s 100m in 10.91 (1.1m/s) at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational Meet, a World Athletics Continental Tour Silver event, on Saturday (11).

Ta Lou-Smith, making her individual season debut, moved to third on this season’s world list. She got a decent start and went into overdrive at the halfway stage before going on to claim a clear win. 

“To open my season with 10.91 is great,” said Ta Lou-Smith. “I was thrilled to see the crowd, and hearing the applause when my name was called was incredible.”

Jamaica’s Krystal Sloley, in a display of her vast improvement, clocked a personal best of 11.09 to secure the runner-up position ahead of compatriot Kemba Nelson (11.12). 

Despite a faulty start and a subsequent false start, the men’s 100m was a nail-biting encounter between world indoor 60m bronze medallist Ackeem Blake and Julian Forte, resulting in a photo finish. Both men clocked 10.02 (0.8m/s), with Forte being declared the winner after photo analysis. Brandon Hicklin, one of three men to have dipped under 10 seconds this season, finished third in 10.09.

In their first meeting since their epic showdown at the World Championships in Budapest, European 400m record-holder and world silver medallist Matthew Hudson-Smith took revenge on world champion Antonio Watson. The race was almost a repeat of the world final, with Hudson-Smith running a strong 350m and Watson cruising as if he was in energy-saving mode. Unlike last year, Hudson-Smith managed to maintain his lead and crossed the finish line in 44.69. Matthew Boling came in second in 44.98, while Watson finished in fourth place with 45.61.

A few minutes later, Dina Asher-Smith showed steely resolve to repel the challenge of the fast-finishing Jessika Gbai, 22.51 to 22.53, in an entertaining women’s 200m.  

Coming off the curve, Asher-Smith looked in command but began to tire as Gbai made up considerable ground in the final 50 metres. However, the finish line came at the right time for Asher-Smith, competing for the first time in Jamaica.

“My execution was not good,” Asher-Smith said with a wry smile. “When I crossed the line, I said: ‘I will be in trouble’. My start could have been much better, and I could have cut the bend a little better. The intensity was good, and my finish could have been better, but it was all right. Nevertheless, I am in a good place, and there’s plenty to work on.”   

In the men’s 200m, Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes produced an energetic run to register his first sub-20-second mark this season. Hughes, who easily outpaced US duo Christian Coleman and Fred Kerley in the home straight, was satisfied with his effort of 19.96 (1.1m/s).

“I think it was a good race,” said Hughes. “To run sub-20 so early in the season is a bonus for me. I’ve never run this fast so early; last year, my 19-point came in July at the London Diamond League.”

Kerley was second in 20.17, just ahead of Pablo Mateo of France in 20.20.

Tobi Amusan, the world record-holder in the women’s 100m hurdles, was the fastest over the barriers, setting a world-leading time of 12.40 (0.9m/s). Danielle Williams, a two-time world champion, was ahead for most of the race but lost her rhythm over the final two hurdles and finished second with 12.46.

“This is the healthiest I’ve been. It’s a pain-free season compared to other years,” said Amusan. “I told myself: ‘I’m not getting a DQ today’. I’m not the best of starters, but looking at how I executed today, it could have been better, but I am thankful for the win.”

World bronze medallist Rushell Clayton held her nerves to fend off a stern challenge from Anna Cockrell in an enthralling 400m hurdles. Clayton won in a world-leading 53.72, with Cockrell 0.04 adrift. 

Jamaica’s Malik James-King caused a major upset in the men’s 400m hurdles. Kyron McMaster, who won the silver medal at the Budapest World Championships, had taken a commanding lead in the first 300m, and it seemed like he would win comfortably. However, James-King had other plans and started to close in. By the ninth hurdle, James-King was level with McMaster before pulling away to win in a lifetime best of 48.39. McMaster finished second in 49.00, while Jaheel Hyde came third in 49.48.

The charismatic Jaydon Hibbert, the world U20 record-holder and 14th-best jumper of all time, cut the sand at 17.57m (-1.3m/s) in the second round to wrap up the men’s triple jump contest. 

Traves Smikle won the men’s discus with a throw of 66.89m ahead of Fedrick Dacres’ 65.94m.

Jamaica’s Raymond Richards won the men’s high jump by clearing 2.24m on his first attempt. 

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