Lornah Kiplagat makes a break along Copacabana beach (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

“Never say never” – Kiplagat, Rio 2008

Lornah Kiplagat scorched to a magnificent title defence at today’s IAAF / CAIXA World Half Marathon Championships, and then immediately squashed rumours the event in future will not figure in her plans.

Kiplagat admits she is looking for bigger challenges but was insistent that although next year she is unlikely to be in Birmingham, England, chasing a fourth successive global title, that shouldn't be taken as a sign of a defection.

"Never say never because the chances are that you will change your mind," said the 34-year-old Kenyan-born star who has worn the bright orange vest of the Netherlands for the last five years.

"I'd like to come back later, but now I'm looking to try and do other things," said Kiplagat, who also claimed a half marathon silver medal three years again in the arctic conditions prevailing in Edmonton.

Her marriage to husband and coach Pieter Langerhorst has been a massive boost for Dutch athletics, particularly her cross country - she was the 2007 World champion - and road running exploits.

Kiplagat added to that massive reputation with a stunning performance over a fast course on the Rio de Janeiro Riveria where the temperature of around 25 degrees was a perfect bonus for all the competitors.

She was the undisputed favourite to add another gold medal to those she won with her World record displays at the IAAF World Road Running Championships in Debrecen two years over 20 kilometres and the half marathon last year in Udine.

There were doubters who thought the presence of physiotherapist Gerard Hartmann, past healer in particular to British stars Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliffe, meant she wasn't 100 per cent fit.

Hartmann had in fact cured a minor knee injury which saw her pull out of a five kilometres race in London at the beginning of September and the Irishman is now a welcome and fully fledged member of "Team Kiplagat."

"It is marvellous the way he can mend injuries and I'm grateful for what he has done for me already," said Kiplagat who insisted: "I never felt nothing in my knee."

Kiplagat instead of accepting the plaudits worthy of a great champion, instead chose the opportunity to hand them out to both her husband and Hartmann who she believes are inspirational.

"We are a great team, I like working with a guy like Gerard and Pieter is such a great encouragement in everything I do," she said. "I owe both of them a lot."

Certainly Kiplagat appeared on the start line in Rio with her body fully prepared for the exertions of the 21km race and her tactics thoroughly thought out.

The plan was to destroy the field as early as possible which she effectively did after just seven kilometres, having dictated a very quick pace in the first 5km on a testing uphill stretch of hot tarmac.

Coming down to sea level, Kiplagat then produced the power to pull away from her rivals for the biggest winning margin at the championships since Radcliffe took top honours in Vilamoura five years ago.

"I tried to get away as early as possible so that I could just concentrate on running my own race," said Kiplagat, mindful in Udine she had company until the later stages. “(There) Mary Keitany made it hard for me and I didn't want that to be the case on this occasion, so I went off quickly to get myself clear.”

“I felt good throughout the race and I knew I was in shape and just wanted to get away," she said of her runaway success ahead of Aselefech Mergia and Pamela Chepchumba.

Mergia and Chepchumba along with fourth placed Genet Getaneh fought a close call battle for the silver medal before the Ethiopian striking over four minutes from her lifetime fastest, trumped her Kenyan rival into being bronze medallist for the second successive year.

Kiplagat after applauding the trio across the line, said: "I'm looking for new challenges, I want to train for the longer distance of the marathon and compete at the 2012 Olympic Games.”

Whatever the future holds for her, one certainty is that she will continue the fantastic charity work she is doing in her homeland of northern Kenya with assistance from the business sector, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

She admitted: "The Lornah Kiplagat Foundation is my big thing, it goes very well and we are working very hard on several ideas. Right now we are raising US $ 15 million together with Toby Tanser and Anthony Edwards from She4Africa to build a children's hospital in Eldoret and we are working very hard to get money to build our own high school for 250 girls. This will be a boarding school and we want the highest standard possible, both a academic and in sport.”
"We will offer the girls all kind of sports like field hockey, swimming, volleyball, athletics, etc. We are in the process of buying 42 acres where we want to build the school or better, a Sports Academy.”
"KLM is a partner with us, I am ambassador of Doctor2Doctor, a partnership between KLM, VU Hospital in Amsterdam and Moi Hospital in Eldoret."

The golden girl of global road running admitted: "This charity work gives me a lot of positive energy, it charges my battery!"

David Martin - Press Association - for IAAF