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Athletics | Africa

Priscah Jeptoo @ Getty Images

Jeptoo explains how ‘Fantastic Four’ lost London

Former London and New York marathon champion, Priscah Jeptoo has explained how Kenya’s much vaunted ‘Fantastic Four’ contrived to lose to Ethiopia’s debutant Tigist Tufa last Sunday in a monumental upset of the women’s race in the British capital.

The 2012/13 World Marathon Majors (WMM) USD 500,000 jackpot winner cited the cold weather, slackening pace and above all lack of corporation among the Kenyans as the reasons behind surrendering the London title they had held between them for four straight years to their Ethiopian archrivals.

Tufa exploded over the last 3km to beat two-time winner and New York champion, Keitany to the tape in 2:23:22 against 2:23:40 as another Ethiopian, Tirfe Tsegay a further second behind to close the podium.

The rest of Kenya’s fantastic four, Chicago winner Florence Kiplagat (2:24:15), Jeptoo (2:25:01) and defending champion Edna Kiplagat (2:27:12) a two-time world champion trooped home in fifth, seventh and 11th in that order.

“London was good because the men did very well and even we (women) did well since we all finished although the weather was not as good as we expected. I’m happy Mary finished in second place and the rest of us followed.

“For people used to run very fast, when it rains, you can’t go out as fast. If the weather is warm and temperatures are okay, it would have at least been better,” the Olympics silver medallist stated.

The gangly style runner admitted she was not back to her flowing best yet following the leg break that forced out of London last year as her title defence collapsed with niggling injuries hampering her bid to re-establish herself as a force in elite marathon running.

“I had a problem with my back and since I got an injury last year, I have been having small problems, I have not recovered the form I had the other year. I thank God for finishing despite feeling pain in my back.

“I don’t know why rains affects us (Kenyans), maybe it’s because we are not used to training in the rain. If you had expected to run faster then it rains, it also affects you mentally,” the former London winner and second finisher who had targeted a 2:20 run added.

Turning to the Fantastic Four, the 30 year-old revealed they did not communicate with each other during the race as each retreated to their own shells in contrast to the teamwork among the same group that saw a Kenya sweep of the podium at the 2011 World Championships and London Olympics where Jeptoo took silver.

“We were very disappointed since we had a strong team. We just run and no one wanted to take the initiative and push from the front. We realised we had a problem but we all sat until the Ethiopians decided to take off at 35Km.

“Perhaps we all had problems but when I looked at the watch, I knew we were going so slowly, we don’t even train at the pace we were running at halfway. No one wanted to speak out and maybe that contributed to losing the race,” she narrated.

Jeptoo will take time off to gauge her fitness before plotting her next race having been forced to also sit out last year’s title defence in New York.

It was her fourth London race having finished third (2:20:14, PB) on her debut in 2012 to Keitany before returning to beat Edna Kiplagat to the crown the following year in 2:20:15 before her DNF last year and seventh finish in 2015.


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