World champ Janeth Jepkosgei still raring to goBy KIMATHI KAMAU | Friday, May 4 2012 at 13:30
Olympic women's 800m silver medalist Janeth Jepkosgei is keen to prove that there is still life in the old war horse as she prepares for her biggest battle in London.
Since announcing her arrival on the women two-lap scene with a crushing victory over Mozambican legend Maria Mutola at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Jepkosgei has evolved to be a podium constant in the face of stiff competition.
"I want to do my best and I know it's going to be a tough race for me but I would like to be on the podium once more," the runner credited with 14 IAAF recognized medals in a career spanning over a decade stated after a training session at the Chepkoilel Campus training ground in Eldoret.
After following up her Commonwealth golden run with gold at the Osaka Worlds, Jepkosgei has had to contend with a slew of emerging talent notably, compatriot Pamela Jelimo, South Africa's Caster Semenya and Russia's Mariya Savinova who have denied her the top medal at the Beijing Olympics as well as Berlin and Daegu Worlds.
"Many people are beginning to understand women 800m. Before, especially us Kenyans, we thought that no one could do it but once you have decided to train for it, one can make it and many have begun understanding this," Jepkosgei attributes the recent surge of quality female two-lap runners.
She takes pride on her standing as having opened the doors for her compatriots in her specialty after decades of mediocrity at the distance among female runners.
"I'm happy about and I would like those who are active to give room to young athletes. Take our three ladies and train together because you never know, tomorrow you could not be there and they can take over to keep the rhythm going on," she said.
"Never be selfish and show someone else what you know is good," she added.
Jepkosgei has taken the lead by having Daegu finalists, Eunice Sum and 2009 World Youth champion, Cherono Koech under her mentorship.
"What I always tell them is to be disciplined and like the training. It is hard but you have to enjoy even when you know you cannot be there. What I like about them is they are taking everything positively and they are coming up," the Osaka champion added.
Apart from being one of the most recognisable athletes on the women 800m international circuit, Jepkosgei has split her time by investing in education, charity work and other business ventures.
"My parents have taken a big role in the schools am involved in since now, I'm focusing on training for the Olympics. The main thing is my career first and everything follows," she said.
"My brothers and sisters are doing well and some live with me and help me in domestic work and other things. I have a brother at Kip Keino School who is doing well in 1500m, Dennis Bungei and he has the talent and I wish him all the best," she added.
Having been swept away by the ascendancy of Jelimo in 2008 when she was billed as the Olympic champion in waiting, Jepkosgei has to contend with her domestic rival this year after the resurgence that saw her claim the world indoor title in March.
"It's a very good thing that Pamela is back since as a country, we can compete better at the Olympics. On the track, we compete against each other like everyone else but outside; we worked together in Beijing and will do the same again in London to ensure our nation wins again since at the end of the day, that is the most important thing," she declared.
With a planned graduation to 1500m running after London, Jepkosgei is also keeping her intimate cards close to her chest. "I have someone in my life and maybe after London, I will announce where we shall be headed to on that side of my life," the 2006 Commonwealth champ explained.
Jepkosgei attributes her long career to mixing with the correct crowd including her coaches and management team.
"When I say the right people, it does not mean that any other person is not good. Associating yourself with being at the right place and avoiding people who drink or other things that do not help in sport as well as taking every challenge as it comes are the key," she adds.
Jepkosgei also disclosed the origins of her "Eldoret Express" moniker and centrally to what most believed, it was not coined after the bus company of a similar name that plies the routes of her homeland in Kenya.
"Members of the rugby sevens team at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games who we were within the Kenya team came up with the name when I won there and it has since stuck and I like it," she said with a smile. (Xinhua)
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