Why all-conquering Jepchirchir has her work cut out

Gilbert KiprotichChief writer, athletics

While 2020 was a year many would want to erase from their memories, for Peres Jepchirchir it was a bitter-sweet affair.

On one hand the effects of Covid-19 might have affected her indirectly like everybody else across the globe; on the other it was a year of bountiful harvest for the diminutive athlete.

Making her comeback at the competitive stage after taking a maternity break, Jepchirchir lowered the women’s only half marathon world record at Prague in September. She clocked 1:05:34 erasing the previous record of 1:06:11.

It took only six weeks for Jepchirchir to shatter her own record, this time at the World Half Marathon in Gydnia, Poland where she also reclaimed her global title. She managed to lower the mark by 18 seconds.

The athlete would later wind up the year with a win at the Valencia Marathon where she clocked an impressive 2:17:16 to scale to fifth in the all-time world list.

Her scintillating form did not escape the eyes of the sport enthusiasts as she was named the 2020 Outstanding Sportswoman of the year at the awards gala held Saturday in Naivasha.

Jepchirchir was also quick to single out her family as the pillar behind her success,  dedicating the trophy her husband cum trainer Davis Ngeno and her daughter Natalia.

“I dedicate this trophy and last year’s success to my family especially my husband who has really supported me all through,” she said.

“She deserves it (success), she is a person who always works hard. Above all as a family we put God first and that has really pushed us,” Ngeno said of her spouse.

With a new season now taking shape, Jepchirchir’s last heroics is now water under the bridge  as the ambitious athlete eyes a more successful outing in 2021.

The delayed Olympic Games set for this summer in Japan is the ultimate target for Jepchirchir as she seeks to represent Kenya at the world’s largest sporting extravaganza.

While Kenya’s team had already been selected before the Games were postponed last year, Jepchirchir is keeping her fingers crossed.

“I am ready for the Olympics. I know it is an entirely different competition that brings together the best athletes in the world but with proper preparations everything is possible,” said Jepchirchir.

The athlete who is based in Kapsabet, Nandi County was hoping to start the year at the cancelled Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon and has now trained her guns on the Istanbul Half slated for April 11.