Wednesday, 06 September 2017 09:45

Keitany keeps eyes on prize

World marathon record holder Mary Keitany will lead the Kenya challenge as she defends her title in the New York Marathon in November.

Keitany will have for company the silver medallist at the recent World Championships, Edna Kiplagat and Betsy Saina.

All three athletes have all been training in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County.

To stay in shape, Keitany will this weekend compete in the Great North Run as a build up to New York Marathon.

“I’m happy to have been named in the New York Marathon team where I will be going for my fourth title. My training has started and I will be using the Great North Run this weekend gauge my body,” she told Nation Sport.

“I really feels good to run in the same course, something I have done for three years now. I still have time to train hard but for now I must concentrate with the half marathon,” said the Iten based athlete.

The athlete said running the half marathon will enable her identify areas to work on for the next two months.

“After this weekend’s race, I will see what to work on and rectify for the next two months before the main race. It will be part of my training,” she said.

Keitany broke a world record (women only) when she clocked 2:17:01 to better Paula Radcliff’s time by 41 seconds at London Marathon in April.

During this weekend’s half marathon Keitany will be joined by her pacemaker, Caroline Chepkoech, who helped her break the world record.

Chepkoech, who was a lone pacemaker in London Marathon, started the race with a high pace that helped Keitany break the record.

She ran in the Brussels Diamond League which was a final event this year and managed to come in second in 5,000m behind the World champion Hellen Obiri.

Betsy Saina will also be using the race as a build up for her major race in New York where she has been leaving for many years.

Saina ran her debut race in Tokyo Marathon in February where she didn’t perform well. Her eyes are now set on the prize.

She has been doing her training in Iten and she is expected to team up with her compatriots in the race.

Defending champion Vivian Cheruiyot will also make a return to the race as she eyes to be in the podium.

Usain Bolt staying positive after 'awful' exit from athletics

Sprint icon Usain Bolt is trying to remain upbeat despite his "awful" exit from professional athletics.

In the final race of his illustrious career – the 4x100 metres relay final at the IAAF World Championships last month – Bolt sustained a hamstring injury and was unable to finish, having come home an underwhelming third in the 100m final.

The Jamaican, who won eight Olympic gold medals and 11 world titles to cement himself as the greatest sprinter of all time, insisted he would not mount a comeback despite the unfitting nature of his departure from the sport.

Bolt remains disappointed with how his last outing on the track went but was pleased to have given the fans another chance to see him.

"It was a rough one. The 100 metres was not the best but I went out there and I gave it my all and the four-by-ones I pulled my hamstring so that was awful," Bolt told Omnisport at the opening of the new Hublot boutique in Kyoto, Japan.

"But everything happens for a reason in life and that's how I look at it. I never have regrets. I did this for the fans. I came back this season to do it for the fans. Everyone wanted to see me and I came out there and I did my best."

After competing at the past four Olympics, Bolt is looking forward to simply watching the Games in Tokyo in 2020 and is confident fresh talent will keep the fans entertained in his absence.

He said: "It's going to be strange, but I'm going to be excited to really have a chance and sit and watch the whole thing develop and watch all the athletes, watch them warm up. For me, it's going to be different, but I'm excited about seeing it.

"It's always going to be a great tournament. I think there are young athletes that have proven themselves to say they will step up to the plate, so there will be great competition which is always good and there will be new stars coming through.

"It's always good for the sport to see different athletes so it'll be good."

Athletics SA announce Commonwealth Games training squad

Athletics SA (ASA) on Monday named a 63-member preparation squad for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

The team consists of athletes who have met a relaxed qualifying criteria compared to the recent IAAF World Championships in London.

ASA named a list of 13 athletes who automatically made the preliminary team for the quadrennial showpiece “as a result of their performances at the 2017 IAAF World Championships”, with the 13 only needing to prove their competition fitness during the first quarter of 2018.

This is half the number of athletes who lined up at last month's World Championships, from where South Africa returned from with its best ever medal haul winning three gold, a silver, and two bronze.

World 400m record-holder Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya were the standout performers winning double medals at the championships, with long jumper Luvo Manyonga also winning gold.

Van Niekerk won gold in the 400m and silver in the 200m while Semenya won her third 800m world title, adding the 1500m bronze to her collection.

ASA stressed that athletes should not focus solely on the criteria as the team would be selected based on their rankings among Commonwealth nations.

“Athletes must be encouraged to improve their Commonwealth rankings, and not focus on the values of the qualifying standards alone, as the position of the athlete on the Commonwealth rankings will be the primary motivation for an athlete to be included in the final team to the 2018 Games,” an ASA circular read.

Although the circular did not specify where the athletes needed to be ranked, Sascoc has suggested they would have to be among the top-10 in the Commonwealth.

ASA also announced 10 high-profile meetings starting in October and finishing in the middle of December.

The athletics federation will present the preliminary team to Sascoc in the first week of January 2018.

The Star

Japanese schoolboy drawn to Timaru Boys' High because of Tom Walsh

World champion shot putter Tom Walsh's pulling power has extended 9500km, all the way to Japan.

An 18-year-old schoolboy from Osaka has turned up at Walsh's old school, Timaru Boys' High, as he wants to follow in the footsteps of the world champion.

Taito Watanabe's dream is to one day compete in the Olympics against Walsh.

Watanabe said once he decided to spend a year in New Zealand as an international student, the school Walsh attended became an obvious choice.

"My agent said it was possible, so I wanted to come." 

The 108kg athlete has also teamed up with Walsh's original coach, Ian Baird, and is loving every moment of the experience.

"Ian is a very good coach; I am very happy.

"Every day I am getting stronger and better."

At the moment Watanabe's best distance is 13.38 metres, but he hopes to get out to near 18m before he leaves Timaru.

He is already learning plenty.

"No one in Japan learns to spin (in the shot put circle) at school, which is the best way. We just stand and throw," he said.

Watanabe was originally a baseballer but took up shot put at 14 because he liked it.

The international student has enjoyed everything about South Canterbury in the month he has been here, with a lot of firsts ticked off.

His homestay family had already take him skiing and was heading out hunting this weekend.

"It is all good, I love it here," he said.

Watanabe said he might also try rugby next season, as Walsh played No.8 for the First XV.

He had also attended his first school formal, the Jurassic Park-themed Timaru Boys' High ball last weekend.

"It was very good, I really enjoyed it."

But despite all the distractions, Watanabe said shot put remained his focus.

"I want to be No.1 in Japan," he said. 

TBHS sports director Gary Ivamy said Watanabe had been delightful since he had arrived at the school.

"Taito gives everything a go, with a smile on his face.

"He is a great advertisement for international students."

Coach Baird said his new charge was a rough diamond with potential.

"He is very similar to Tom in attitude and size.

"I'm just not sure how well he dances (in the circle), I have not seen him pirouette yet. We have just been using a medicine ball."

Baird said he will have a better idea in October when athletics returns to the Aorangi track.  

"He will certainly take several steps towards where he wants to go, but he is also handy with the javelin, so who knows where he might end up? But he will certainly never be a sprinter."

The colourful young shot putter's only slight disappointment so far in Timaru was when a Stuff reporter turned up to interview him at school. He originally believed he would be meeting his idol, something he hopes can be arranged before too long.

- Stuff

Brazil police say Rio Olympics were bought in corrupt scheme

Brazilian officials said on Tuesday that the country's Olympics chief was the "lynchpin" in a plot to bribe the International Olympic Committee into awarding Rio de Janeiro last year's Games.

Brazilian police said in a statement they were probing "an international corruption scheme" aimed at "the buying of votes for the election of (Rio) by the International Olympic Committee as the venue for the 2016 Olympics."

Revealing a nine-month investigation spanning several countries and dubbed "Unfair Play," police said Carlos Nuzman had been taken in for questioning and his house searched.

Nuzman, who was the pointman for Rio's successful bid to become the first South American host of the Olympics, left his house in Rio's posh Leblon neighborhood while police officers exited with bags of evidence.

Prosecutors said Nuzman was detained to give testimony and although not arrested he had his passport confiscated.