Nairobi: Withdrawals of some top names from the Kenyan team for the World Championships won`t leave coach Abraham Kiplimo without sleep.
The marathon coach, who is taking his charges through the drill in Iten, some 300 km northwest of Nairobi, is confident that Kenya will prevail, especially in the 42km distance, where his women team will be in spotlight on the first day of the World Championships which runs Aug 10-16 in Moscow, reports Xinhua.
"The answer to the critics is simple, we are training harder and we will win. Simple. We are doing everything possible to retain the titles Kenya won in Daegu in 2011 and marathon was one of the disciplines we triumphed in," he said.
"To start off, the medal hunt is challenging for a big country like Kenya with much expectations. But the team is okay, we are sharpening a few skills in certain areas we feel demand my attention," said Kiplimo.
"The pillar of our success will certainly be on us working as a team. Hopefully we will even surpass the five gold medals we won in Daegu," he added.
When the curtains rise at the World Championships Aug 10, the focus will not be on the dope scandals that have bedevilled the track and field competition, but on the prospects of Kenya retaining the women`s marathon title, which Edna Kiplagat and Catherine Ndereba won in successive championships in Daegu (2011), Berlin (2009) and Osaka (2007).
Kiplagat is keen to make it three times lucky in the discipline and she knows which gears to switch to when she comes on the course in Moscow.
Last year, Kiplagat finished second behind Mary Keitany in London marathon with a personal best of 2:19:50 before returning in the same position this year behind Priscah Jeptoo. Now she is keen to get the winner`s podium now that both Keitany and Kiptoo will be absent in Moscow.
Kiptoo was left out because of fatigue while Keitany is in motherhood.
"I have polished my skills, my speed is okay and my endurance is where I want it to be. Hopefully the weather will be great to me," Kiptoo said.
But the onus to fly Kenyan flag high in women`s marathon in Moscow is not on Kiplagat alone.
Alongside Kiplagat, there is also 2012 Dubai marathon silver medallist and former Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion Lucy Wangui Kabuu and newcomers Margaret Akai and Valentine Kipketer.
Kabuu, who boasts an impressive 2:19:34 personal best she posted in Dubai in 2012, also eyes a share of the glory by winning the 42-km road race.
The men`s team, which is also camped in Iten, has youngsters keen to prove their mettle.
Unlike in previous years when Kenya selected big names, there will be no Geoffrey Mutai, Emmanuel Mutai, defending champions Abel Kirui or world marathon record holder Patrick Makau.
Instead, the challenge to bring Kenya glory falls on the shoulders of Peter Some, Michael Kipyego, Bernard Kipyego, Nicholas Kipkemboi and Bernard Koech.
Kipyego, the runner-up at the Tokyo Marathon this year, said training under hot weather conditions will boost their resistance in Moscow.