When the world’s best woman marathoner Brigid Kosgei told her family that she would like to compete in Delhi at the Airtel Half Marathon, their initial reaction was of surprise. “They asked why do you want to go to Delhi where there are so many cases of COVID,” Kosgei said. But for Kosgei, the women’s marathon world record-holder, Delhi is an important pitstop in the run-up to Tokyo. And with a little convincing her family agreed.
“I think every event I compete forms a part of my training. My focus is on the Olympic gold. Everything I do till that race is a part of my training. Even here, it’s a strong field. For me, everyone is an achiever. I see a very tough race on Sunday,” the Kenyan star runner said.
The women’s elite race on Sunday will be headlined by Kosgei’s contest with Ababel Yeshaneh, the half marathon world record holder.
Kosgei was among the seven children brought up by her single mother in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya, a region that is home to several runners of repute. The 2020 London Marathon Champion took over the throne of women’s long-distance running with authority after clocking 2:14:04s at the Chicago Marathon last year. Her pacy run eclipsed the previous 16-year-old record by 1 minute 21 seconds.
Kosgei admits it has been a tough year with COVID restrictions forcing cancellations of most competitions and derailing her training routine. Back home Kosgei is used to training in large groups but the country’s COVID restrictions did not allow her to do so. Being a world champion did not earn her any special privileges in Kenya. “If we run in a group they will put us behind bars,” she says on a lighter vein.
But fortunately for Kosgei, she had a training partner in husband Matthew Mitei who is currently taking care of their twin children Faith and Brian, while she prepares for Sunday’s race.
“We had restrictions on group running so I ran alone while my husband followed. My sister also takes good care of them so I don’t need to worry and focus on my race,” she said.
Kosgei, who quite understandably prefers the full marathon over half, did not make any bold statements or predict the outcome of Sunday’s race that will be flagged off from Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. “I have a good record in half marathons, but I am not going to make predictions about this race as it is a very tough field. Some of the ladies may be better prepared as they competed at the World Half Marathon Championships last month,” she said.
Kosgei’s 8-year-old twins always await their mother’s return after an overseas competition, especially in anticipation of the presents she would get. But this time around, with the COVID restrictions, gifts from India are not on the cards. A gold medal from Sunday’s race could do the trick.
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