Uhuru, Ruto lead Kenyans in hailing New York queen Keitany


Mary Keitany of Kenya celebrates with the Kenyan flag after finishing first in the Professional ...
Mary Keitany of Kenya celebrates with the Kenyan flag after finishing first in the Professional Women's Division during the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park on November 6, 2016 in New York City. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Samoei Ruto and USA Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec are among the high profile figures who led Kenyans in celebrating Mary Keitany for winning her third straight TSC New York City Marathon title on Sunday.

Other prominent persons who joined in the celebrations are Athletics Kenya (AK) President, Lieutenant General (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei and former New York champion and retired great, Douglas Wakiihuri as Kenyans took to social media to hail the Big Apple queen.

President Kenyatta and Ruto posted their messages on micro blogging site Twitter shortly after the mother of two sealed her hat-trick in the streets of New York in 2:24:26 after putting together a commanding solo performance.

“Congratulations to Mary Keitany for another NYC marathon triumph. You keep us firmly on the map. Stand tall,” the Head of State wrote on his official handle.

“Mary Keitany wins her third consecutive New York Marathon in impressive fashion. We applaud her,” his deputy added.

“Congratulations to Mary Keitany, it was fantastic to see her win her third New York Marathon,” Godec said on Monday at a function to launch the Junior NBA League in Kenya held in Nairobi.

“Kenya is a country of fantastic sports talent and one of my duties is improving the sporting ties between our two nations,” the envoy added.

“Congratulations Mary Keitany for winning New York Marathon,” former Imenti Central Member of Parliament and leading lawyer, Gitobu Imanyara said on Twitter as Kenyans took on social media to pour praise on the 34 year-old.

On Sunday evening Keitany made history as the first woman to successfully defend her title three times in 30 years.

She won her first in 2014 with 2:25:07 on the clock and retained the crown last year in 2:24:25 before a strong solo charge for victory in the second half of the race clinched her hat-trick.

Kipyego took second place in 2:28:26 while debutant American Molly Huddle (2:28:13) for third place.

“My preparation was very okay at home, since I didn’t get the ticket to Rio, so I had enough time to train. I am happy.

“I was not imagining any time. I just took a lead after 15 miles and took on my own race. I was not thinking that I was near the course record. I went at my own pace from the time I broke off. For me it was okay,” the quietly spoken former London champion told the IAAF.

“It means a lot to me,” Keitany, whose eight-year-old son, Jared, and three-year-old daughter, Samantha, watched their mother race. “I’m very excited that I got it again, three times. I know that it’s not easy, but I got it.”

Tuwei was impressed by Keitany’s historical win and as well as Sally Kipyego’s performance that clinched the Kenyan 1-2 in the women’s race.

“I would like to give a big congratulatory message to Keitany. It’s not easy to defend a World Marathon Majors title successfully three times. She has out done herself, done the country and us proud at large as well as Sally.  It was beautiful performance from them,” the AK boss told Citizen Digital on phone.

Tuwei was disappointed by 2015 men’s winner Stanley Biwott dropping out inside the opening 15 miles but hailed Lucas Rotich who finished second to Eritrea’s Ghimray Ghebreselassie.

“It’s quite unfortunate that Stanley had an injury and could not defend his title but Rotich represented us well. He ran with very experienced runners and he was able to finish position two well done all Kenyan athletes who participated at the New York Marathon,” he added.

Retired great Douglas Wakiihuri -who won the same race 26 years ago in 1990-, praised Keitany although he was concerned by the few of male athletes who made the elite field.

“I congratulate them since everyone is given different opportunities and different avenues to perform. It all ends up with a good performance. I appreciate the efforts they put there,” the 1987 world champion added.

In the men’s race, 21-year-old Ghimray Ghebreslassie of Eritrea cut the tape at 2:07:51 for the title, as Rotich came in second in 2:08:53 with 39-year-old Abdi Abdirahman (2:11:23) clinching third.

-Rio Reserve-

Mary Keitany of Kenya embraces her husband Charles Koech and daughter Samantha after crossing the finish line to finish first in the Professional Women's Division during the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park on November 6, 2016 in New York City. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP
Mary Keitany of Kenya embraces her husband Charles Koech and daughter Samantha after crossing the finish line to finish first in the Professional Women’s Division during the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park on November 6, 2016 in New York City. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP

Keitany and Chicago champion Florence Kiplagat were named as reserves in Kenya’s team for the Rio 2016 Olympics and their performances in the World Marathon Majors fall season have been seen as a slap in the face of AK selectors.

However, Tuwei and Wakiihuri do not share the same opinion since they believe the team had the best performance at the Olympics with Kenya bagging the men and women double for the first time through Eliud Kipchoge and Jemimah Sumgong.

“Let’s not talk about the past, preparations for the Olympics are different from how they prepared from their various races and won,” Tuwei underscored.

“The team performed well in Rio we won gold in both men and women that was a very good performance. We now have an Olympics medal for the women’s team,” Wakiihuri who won silver at the 1988 Olympics Games in Seoul added.

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