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Soccer close to Kenyan marathon champ's heart

other Updated: Jun 04, 2011 00:23 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times
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Iten, a small village in the highlands of the Rift Valley of Kenya, is home to several world and Olympic champions.

However, as a teenager, Edna Kiplagat stayed aloof in her primary school as most of her friends were serious about running. While others spent time running up and down the hills, Edna's favourite past-time was soccer, which had few takers.

That was 15 years ago. Today, Edna is the most feared woman marathon runner in the world. Hers is a story of hard work and discipline. Edna, who is among the elite foreign athletes for the TCS World 10k to be held on Sunday, spoke to HT.

Driven by paucity of funds, the second of four siblings, Edna started with track races in 1995. Despite the struggle, she gradually made her way up - representing the Kenyan junior section in the world cross-country and track and field meets.

"It was beginning of the long journey," she recalled. The returns, in terms of money, were negligible, hence, she switched to the lucrative road-running circuit in the US. The breakthrough came in 2003 when she won the Monument Avenue 10k. "The big win came at a time when I was struggling to make a few dollars on the circuit," said Edna.

The hard work paid dividend in 2010. She emerged victorious in the Los Angeles Marathon followed by the more prestigious New York Marathon. Both wins "proved to be turning points of my career". This year, the mother of two - added another feather to her cap by winning the London Marathon.

But all those miles of running haven't diminished her passion for soccer.

(The writer's trip has been sponsored by Procam)