NAIROBI: Defending world champion Ruth Chepngetich predicted ever-advancing times in the women’s marathon after being named Friday in the Kenyan team for this summer’s World Athletics Championships. The 27-year-old Kenyan overcame the midnight heat in the Qatari capital Doha to take the marathon title in September 2019. She then posted the second-fastest women-only marathon time of 2hr 17min 18sec to win in Nagoya, Japan, in March. “The women’s marathon has made sharp progress in the last four years, with no less than seven elite runners all running under 2:18,” said Chepngetich, who heads the Kenyan women’s marathon team of three for the July 15-24 world championships in Eugene, Oregon. Ranked the fourth fastest woman in the world, Chepngetich was one of the favourites to clinch gold in the Tokyo Olympics marathon last August, but she failed to finish after struggling in the heat and humidity of Sapporo. The Kenyan, however, bounced back to take the honours in Chicago in October, timing 2:22:31 for victory in her first marathon appearance in the United States. “It wouldn’t be surprising to see a world-leading time on the Eugene course which is reported to be mostly flat and spectator-friendly,” Chepngetich said. The women’s marathon in Eugene is scheduled for July 18, a day after the men’s event. Chepngetitch will be joined by Judith Jeptum, who earned her place after winning last weekend’s Paris marathon in a sub-2:20 course record. The men’s team sees Olympian Lawrence Cherono, winner of the 2019 Chicago and Boston marathons, picked for his first world championships. Cherono was named alongside three-time world half-marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor and Barnabas Kiptum. Geoffrey Kirui, the 2017 London world gold medallist, was named as a reserve. Kenya marathon team for the World Athletics Championships: Women: Ruth Chepngetich, Judith Jeptum, Maureen Chepkemoi, Angela Tanui (reserve). Men: Lawrence Cherono, Geoffrey Kamworor, Barnabas Kiptum, Geoffrey Kirui (reserve).