Lornah Kiplagat of the Netherlands celebrates her world record and victory in the women's race with silver medalist Mary Jepkosgei Keitany of Kenya and bronze medalist Pamela Chepchumba of Kenya (© Getty Images)
Two World records**, a winner’s payment of US$30,000 and a World record bonus of US$50,000 can be described as a near perfect day for Holland’s Lornah Kiplagat at the IAAF World Road Running Championships which were contested today in this north eastern Italian city.
Just four-months ago everything had looked very different indeed for the 33-year-old Kenyan born road running champion, as a leg injury had forced Kiplagat to forgo the Osaka World Championships in Athletics.
Yet such deep disappointment was to be the catalyst for the today’s World record double – 20km 1:02:57; Half Marathon 1:06:25.
“Having missed out on Osaka I wanted victory here (in Udine) even more than ever,” said Kiplagat.
“I never panicked when I got injured but I owe everything to Pieter (Langerhorst) – coach / husband – who gave me the confidence to ‘go for it’, and I dedicate this victory to him.”
“I had my own doubts but he reassured me about my fitness and without that I would not have had the faith to have run so well today.”
“I was rested well (after the time off for the injury) and confident that I had the strength.”
Confidence was the marker of Kiplagat’s race on a glorious day of sunshine in Udine.
“I knew the opening pace was very strong but I was always very comfortable with my running, and knew I could run faster.”
“I realised the record (half marathon) was possible with 4km to go. I saw the clock (on the lead car) and did some calculations and these were confirmed when I checked the time when we had 2km left to run.”
Kiplagat was pleased for her own performance of course but was as generous as ever about her fellow racers on a day in which she pulverized the hopes of all but one of her field of opponents out of existence. In particular she praised the way that second placed Mary Keitany, 25, had tried to stick with her. Keitany was to finish in silver just 21 seconds behind Kiplagat in 1:06:48, just one second behind the Kenyan national record.
“I like Mary’s confidence, the way she tried to run with me. I knew in the last part I would be the strongest but it makes me pleased to see her run like that,” said Kiplagat.
For her part Keitany acknowledged Kiplagat’s inspiration. “Of course she is a heroine to me…she gave me confidence,” the shy Kenyan confirmed.
Kenya’s advancing female athletes
The performance of both Kenyans who followed Kiplagat home was a source of great joy to the Dutchwoman, who is a former Kenyan, having for a longtime run in the European country’s colours following her marriage to Langerhorst.
“I sit here in a Dutch vest though my heart is in Kenya. Look, here with me now (at the press conference after the race) are Mary and Pamela (Chepchumba – bronze medal), and that shows how much Kenyan women’s running has progressed. There were those in Kenya who did not believe women could develop, and so would not invest (in their future) but look (at the situation) now.”
“Also in Osaka it was the same. Kenyan women were making as many headlines if not more than the men. I am proud of what women have done. There can be no doubts anymore” (in Kenya).
Asked about her plans for a possible defence of her World Cross Country title next year in Edinburgh, Kiplagat would not be drawn so early.
“I want to absorb this victory, and only then think about the future. Now is the time for celebrating.”
IAAF Editorial Manager
**subject to usual ratification procedures