Kenya's Kipchoge aims to break sub 'two-hour' marathon time

Kenyan world record holder Eliud Kipchoge is to make another attempt at breaking two hours for the marathon later this year, probably in Britain, in a project backed by Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire owner of chemical firm INEOS.



Kipchoge ran two hours and 25 seconds in his “Breaking Two” project on Italy’s Monza motor racing circuit in 2017, though the time was not ratified for record purposes as he used “in and out” pacemakers and a moving drinks station.



Last year he lowered the legal world record by an astonishing 78 seconds when posting 2:01.39 in Berlin and last week ran the second-fastest time in history when winning the London marathon in 2:02.37.



Sending a message



With an Olympic marathon gold and an amazing record of 11 wins from 12 races over the 26.2 mile distance, breaking two hours would appear to be the only thing missing from the CV of a man ranked among the greatest his sport has seen.



“This would really surpass everything because this will go in the history as far as the human family is concerned,” Kipchoge said when announcing the bid at the Iffley Road running track in Oxford where Briton Roger Bannister became the first man to break four minutes for the mile 65 years ago on Monday.



“It is not about recognition or ratification but to make history and to pass on a message that no human is limited. Running the fastest-ever marathon of 2:00.25 was the proudest moment of my career.”



There are still many details to be ironed out for the new attempt, labeled “The 1.59 Challenge” though it is likely to be in September or October on a two or three-km circuit course, probably in Britain and possibly in one of London’s Royal parks.



It will again be un-ratified as the Kenyan will use a phalanx of pacemakers who run a number of laps, dipping in and out so that they can maintain the phenomenal two minute, 50 seconds per km pace necessary.



Although Nike is not spearheading the attempt as it did in Monza, Kipchoge, 34, will again wear their somewhat controversial carbon-insoled Vaporfly shoes that Nike says improve running economy by up to four percent.



The shoes have been passed legal by the sport’s governing body the IAAF, though some critics say they give such an advantage that without them Kipchoge would be a “routine” 2.03/04 performer.



The shoes, pacemakers, apparel, wind-blocking paceclock car and rolling drinks stations helped take Kipchoge agonizingly close in Monza and he says the lessons learned then will make him even more likely to pull off a feat that would undoubtedly rank at the very top of human sporting achievement.



Changing mentality



Most importantly, Kipchoge said, has been a change in mentality as, having come so close there and subsequently massively improved his best legal time, he now fully believes he is capable of maintaining the necessary pace.



Ratcliffe, 66 and a keen runner for decades, said that the missing link could be a crowd to watch and encourage, after the Monza attempt took place in front of a handful of media, sponsors and associates.



“If Eliud has got a fantastic crowd cheering him on, it’s going to make a bit of difference and we don’t need to make a lot of difference to make up 26 seconds,” he said.



“I was in the pace car in front of Eliud for the London Marathon and he was looking very serene and comfortable. He’s still getting better.”



Ratcliffe has taken over ownership of cycling’s former Team Sky, funded Ben Ainslie’s 2021 America’s Cup sailing challenge and owns Swiss soccer club Lausanne Sport.



“It’s good fun. We make billions in profits so what’s wrong with investing a bit of that in sport, in good challenges, good people?,” he said.



“Eliud is the finest marathon runner there has ever been and I think it will be very inspirational, to get kids putting running shoes on.



“It would be an extraordinary achievement. It’s almost super-human, isn’t it really? To break two hours in a marathon is quite unthinkable.”

FIFA maintains 32 teams for 2022 World Cup in Qatar

FIFA said it had abandoned the expansion plans « following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process » which led to the conclusion that « under the current circumstances such a proposal could not

The world’s football governing body, FIFA took a decision to maintain 32 teams at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, rejecting president Gianni Infantino’s proposal to expand the tournament to feature 48 teams.

FIFA said it had abandoned the expansion plans “following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process” which led to the conclusion that “under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now”.

“(The tournament) will therefore remain as originally planned with 32 teams and no proposal will be submitted at the next FIFA Congress on 5 June,” FIFA said in a statement.

Why Gianni wanted 48 teams

The expansion was a pet project of Infantino, who pushed the idea despite the likely need for Qatar’s neighbours to put aside a two-year blockade and help to host an expanded tournament.

“The involvement of these countries in the organisation of the tournament jointly with Qatar implies the lifting of this blockade, in particular the lifting of restrictions on the movement of people and goods,” said a feasibility study submitted to March’s FIFA Congress in Miami.

The study, seen by AFP, also claimed that a Qatar World Cup with 48 teams would generate “between $300-$400 million (265-354 million euros) of additional income”.

Specifically FIFA was counting on an additional $120 million in TV rights, $150 million in marketing rights and $90 million from ticket sales.

An announcement of the final decision had not been expected until next month’s FIFA Congress to be held in Paris ahead of the women’s World Cup that takes place in France between June 7 and July 7.

Obstacles to expansion

The news comes after Europe’s top football clubs said in March they would boycott an expanded 24-team Club World Cup — also backed by Infantino — which is planned to take place in June and July 2021, replacing the Confederations Cup tournament.

Expanding the competition for the 2022 tournament was always a complicated proposition. FIFA had sounded out potential co-hosts in the region willing to support Qatar, which is subject to an ongoing embargo by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their allies.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee, charged with the organisation of the tournament, said in reaction to FIFA’s decision that “Qatar had always been open to the idea of an expanded tournament in 2022 had a viable operating model been found and had all parties concluded that an expanded 48-team edition was in the best interest of football and Qatar as the host nation.”

But it said there was insufficient time to make a deeper assessment before the June deadline and “it was therefore decided not to further pursue this option.”

“With just three and a half years to go until kick off, Qatar remains as committed as ever to ensuring the 32-team FIFA World Cup in 2022 is one of the best tournaments ever and one that makes the entire Arab world proud,” the Supreme Committee said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut all ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of supporting Iran and Islamist groups.

Qatar vehemently denies the charges and says Saudi Arabia and its allies are aiming to incite government change in the emirate, the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas.

Gulf states Kuwait and Oman have not taken sides in the crisis. However, Oman said in April it was “not ready” to host matches.

AFP

South Africa appoints first ever female national rugby coach

The union announced two other former female internationals in team management roles with ex-captain Nomsebenzi Tsotsobe to be Springbok women’s team manager and Natasha Hofmeester the Under-20 women

South Africa’s Rugby authorities on Tuesday appointed the first ever female coach of a national team, announcing that Laurian Johannes will take charge of the country’s Under-20 women’s side.

She will begin next month with two internationals against neighbouring Zimbabwe in Harare.

“This is a massive achievement for Laurian and for South African rugby, and we wish her luck in this significant role,” said SA Rugby chief executive officer Jurie Roux.

“The fact that Laurian played for the Springbok women’s team and participated in the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup before learning the ropes of coaching at Western Province makes this achievement even more meaningful.

“She has come through the ranks, and I hope she will inspire other former female players to enter into coaching and follow their dreams.”

The union announced two other former female internationals in team management roles with ex-captain Nomsebenzi Tsotsobe to be Springbok women’s team manager and Natasha Hofmeester the Under-20 women’s team manager.

Agencies

Ghana's president convinces Gyan to cancel retirement

Asamoah Gyan has not featured for the side since September 2017 after persistent injury problems and has also battled for game-time with his Turkish club Kayserispor.

Gyan back from retirement

Just 48 hours after announcing his international retirement, Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan has bowed to a presidential request to make himself available for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations

‘‘I have taken the request of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in good faith, and will make myself available for selection by coach Kwasi Appiah to help win the AFCON trophy,’‘ Gyan tweeted.

Government spokesperson Eugene Arhin in a statement confirmed the president’s intervention.

“The President urged him, in the national interest, to rescind his decision to retire from the Black Stars, and make himself available for selection by coach Kwesi Appiah.”

Fans applaud Gyan’s national record

Football fans across the world are paying tribute to Ghana’s all-time leading goal-scorer Asamoah Gyan who announced his international retirement on Monday.

The news which comes a month before the start of the African Nations Cup, follows shortly after he was removed as the national team’s captain.

Striker Gyan has not featured for the side since September 2017 after persistent injury problems and has also battled for game-time with his Turkish club Kayserispor.

“Upon consultation with my family and team, and as an active footballer and captain of the national team, if the decision of the coach is to give captaincy of the tournament to another player while I am named in the team (squad) of the tournament, I wish to recuse myself from the tournament,” Gyan said in a statement.

“I also wish to retire from the national team permanently,” he said.

The 33-year-old netted 51 goals in 106 international appearances, both Ghana national team records, which includes scoring at six consecutive Nations Cup finals, as well as three World Cups between 2006 and 2014.

Social media reactions

Fans applaud Ghana's Asamoah Gyan following international retirement

Asamoah Gyan has not featured for the side since September 2017 after persistent injury problems and has also battled for game-time with his Turkish club Kayserispor.

Football fans across the world are paying tribute to Ghana’s all-time leading goal-scorer Asamoah Gyan who announced his international retirement on Monday.

The news which comes a month before the start of the African Nations Cup, follows shortly after he was removed as the national team’s captain.

Striker Gyan has not featured for the side since September 2017 after persistent injury problems and has also battled for game-time with his Turkish club Kayserispor.

“Upon consultation with my family and team, and as an active footballer and captain of the national team, if the decision of the coach is to give captaincy of the tournament to another player while I am named in the team (squad) of the tournament, I wish to recuse myself from the tournament,” Gyan said in a statement.

“I also wish to retire from the national team permanently,” he said.

The 33-year-old netted 51 goals in 106 international appearances, both Ghana national team records, which includes scoring at six consecutive Nations Cup finals, as well as three World Cups between 2006 and 2014.

Social media reactions

CAF unveils AFCON 2019 mascot [Football Planet]

Guinea’s U17 side, finalist at this years youth championship have been disqualified from participating in the next two editions of the U17 AFCON as well as the world cup in Brazil lat

Guinea’s U17 side, finalist at this years youth championship have been disqualified from participating in the next two editions of the U17 competition as well as the world cup in Brazil later this year, as they fielded two over aged players during the competition in Tanzania.

RS Berkane last night muscled a late goal in the Caf Confederation Cup first leg finals against Zamalek of Egypt. Playing their first continental finals, the Moroccans take a one goal lead into the return leg to be played this weekend.

Less than a month to the kickoff of Africa’s most prestigious football come together, Caf has officially released the mascot for the competition do not blink it is brief.

Exclusively getting the views of former premier league player George Elokobi’s views on the surge of record breaking Africans in the EPL this season and he tells us what has changed from when he played for Wolverhampton Wanderers from 2009 to 2011.