Athletics: Kenya's Chepkoech eyes fast track to Olympic gold

ELDORET, Kenya (Reuters) - Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech, the women’s 3,000 meters steeplechase world record holder, plans to add another major title to her first world championships win in September -- an Olympic gold medal.

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The victory in Doha has given her extra confidence heading into next year’s Tokyo Olympics, Chepkoech told Reuters on the sidelines of an Athletics Kenya conference in the northwestern city of Eldoret.

“It motivates me a lot toward the Olympics next year,” she said. “It was also my first World Championships win and I am heading to the Olympics also and I want to win it.”

Chepkoech, 28, said she plans to compete in 1,500 meters indoor races next year in a bid to build up her speed and endurance heading into Tokyo.

“When I start with 1,500 (meters) I am going to gain a lot of speed and then also when I move to outdoor I will do 3,000 (meters) flat and that will also push me to get that speed endurance (for the steeplechase),” she said.

“Because I am not going to do much Diamond League, so I think I will be having a lot of energy.”

“If there is a faster track, I will try my best to lower my world record,” Chepkoech added.

The steeplechase is one of the events that have been cut from the Diamond League’s core program next year in an effort to create faster-paced and more exciting meetings.

“It’s not good,” Chepkoech said. “We have to focus on the Olympics because there is no more final in the Diamond League, so my aim is toward the Olympics.”

Several high-profile Kenyan athletes have been banned in recent years for failing drugs tests, damaging the reputation of the east African country, but Chepkoech is not concerned.

“It doesn’t bother me because I am not using those things,” she said. “What I am going to tell young athletes is just train, forget about using substances... everything is possible.”

Although she is fully focused on the Olympics, Chepkoech is also contemplating moving on to road races later in her career.

“I will start from next year, end of next year, I will try to do maybe 10K or 15K toward road races,” she said.

Reporting by Omar Mohammed and Isaack Omulo, editing by Ed Osmond