Athletics: Kirui, Kiplagat top Kenya world marathon hopes

Defending world marathon champions Abel Kirui and Edna Kiplagat have been named in a 20-member provisional team for the world championships in Moscow, Athletics Kenya announced on Wednesday.

Kirui, 31, won gold in the marathon at the last two editions of the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, in 2011 and Berlin two years earlier.

He was a silver medallist in last year's London Olympics marathon behind Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich.

Edna Kiplagat, 33, failed to make the podium in London last year, managing only 20th place, despite being one of the favourites.

Also included in the provisional squad are the recent Boston and London champions Priscah Jeptoo and Rita Jeptoo.

The decision to name the team, which will be whittled down to only three runners per category, comes amid concern among selectors on the declining number of athletes who have attained the qualifying standard for the August 10-18 championships.

Athletics Kenya (AK) chairman Isaiah Kiplagat said only 58 athletes have run under the qualifying times and warned that time was running out for them to do so.

"We are worried that we have not seen our elite athletes shining early in the season like before. There are no competitions in Europe, and yet they not taking part in our local meetings either," he added.

"Our main worry is on the women. There are no top women since the Olympics. The technical committee and the coaches have to come up with an explanation to tell us what has gone wrong," he added.