Kenya stars withdraw from World Half Marathon

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Meanwhile, Kenyan-based Swiss distance runner Julien Wanders is targeting a good placing rather than a fast time in the World Half Marathon Championships.

"I'm not looking for a time, just a good position. I will tell myself to go for the win and see what I can do. I will try to keep up with the top guys and if I can get a medal, it's good, but if I can get top 10 it's good, too," he said.

"We tried to have a fourth athlete Joan Chelimo to join the team, but it was too late because IAAF deadline for submission of names had elapsed," Susan Kamau, the Athletics Kenya CEO said on Thursday.

NAIROBI, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's World Half Marathon team was dealt a blow after bronze medalist Mary Wacera and Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon champion Fancy Chemutai pulled out of the team.

Their withdrawal comes just a day after the Kenya team to the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast Australia (April 4-15), which is in camp in Nairobi threatened to boycott training demanding the government to settle their allowances and bonuses.

Kenya will be looking out for Jepkosgei, who has shaken off a flue boot, as she eyes the title. Jepkosgei broke the world half marathon twice last year, will be returning to Valencia, where she broke the world half marathon record last on Oct. 22 in a new time of 64 minutes and 51 seconds. Jepkosgei had on April 1 last year lowered the world half marathon record to 1:04:52 in Prague.

The team of seven athletes jetted out on Wednesday night to Valencia, with a stopover in Zurich. Those who travelled on Wednesday were Jepkosgei, Chepng'etich, Kaveke, Leonard Barsoton, Barselius Kipyego, Alex Oloitiptip and Jorum Okombo.

During the last championships, Kenya swept the medal podium and the team is under pressure to deliver similar performance in Spain. Kamworor, will particularly be looking out to win his third title in a row after victories in Copenhagen in 2014 and Cardiff in 2016.

Kamworor won in Copenhagen in a world lead and championship record time of 59:08 before retaining the crown in Cardiff in 59:10, the second fastest time in the championship.

The two cited injuries as the reason for their late withdrawal, which left Kenya with no option but to let go of the two slots and will now be represented in Valencia by three athletes led by World Half Marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei, Ruth Chepg'etich and Pauline Kaveke.

They will join defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor, who arrived in Valencia Tuesday.

Wanders, who has been based in Iten since the age of 18, is planning to contest either the 300000m or 10,000m at the European Championships in Berlin.