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Kenya's Kipyegon ready for Olympic title defence after long absence

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By Reuters
Kenya's Kipyegon ready for Olympic title defence after long absence
Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, the 1500 metre Olympic champion, attends the 2019 Athletes Annual Conference in Eldoret, Kenya, December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi   -   Copyright  NJERI MWANGI(Reuters)
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By Omar Mohammed and Isaack Omulo

ELDORET, Kenya (Reuters) – Kenya’s Olympic 1,500 metres champion Faith Kipyegon said on Thursday that winning a silver medal at this year’s World Championships in Doha after having a baby had motivated her to try to retain the Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

Kipyegon returned to competition this season after taking nearly two years off for the birth of her daughter last year and has recovered from an adductor injury picked up in June.

“To come back in 2019 very strongly after maternity leave has just motivated me for next year,” the 25-year-old told Reuters at an Athletics Kenya conference in the northwestern city of Eldoret.

Kipyegon won silver in Doha in a time of 3:54.22, more than two seconds behind Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.

“I was really surprised and I am looking forward to next year to run (better) than this year.”

Kipyegon is under no illusions about the tough competition she will face in her attempt to retain her Olympic crown.

“I just pray to God to give me strength and to have a spirit of fighting in Tokyo because I know it will be a strong race there,” she said.

Kipyegon is especially wary of the threat posed by Hassan, who won the 1,500-10,000 metres double at the worlds.

“I know Sifan is now motivated a lot,” she said. “We’re all going there for the gold medal.”

Kipyegon had a nagging hip injury after the Sept. 27 to Oct. 6 worlds but she has now recovered and is looking forward to competing in the 2020 Diamond League and at the Olympics.

(Reporting by Omar Mohammed and Isaack Omulo; Editing by Ken Ferris)