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What Mary Keitany’s little girl had for Pope Francis when they met in Rome

KENYA’S Mary Keitany and her family met Pope Francis in the Vatican on Tuesday. Mary, 37,  is the world record holder in a women-only marathon, having won the 2017 London Marathon in a time of 2:17:01.

But the spotlight of the moment in the rare meeting with the Pope was Mary’s young girl, Assumpta Cherop, who was also with her brother Jared Kipchuma and dad Charles Koech.

Top: Big, hearty smiles from Mary Keitany and her family when they met Pope Francis in Rome. From second from left; Mary’s husband Charles Koech, daughter Assumpta Cherop and son Jared Kipchumba. Assumpta gave the Pope the picture he is hoilding, above: Mary Keitany (right) leads early stages of this year’s London Marathon. She finished fifth. From there, she and her family visited Rome where they met Pope Francis

Top: Big, hearty smiles from Mary Keitany and her family when they met Pope Francis in Rome. From second from left; Mary’s husband Charles Koech, daughter Assumpta Cherop and son Jared Kipchumba. Assumpta gave the Pope the picture he is hoilding, above: Mary Keitany (right) leads early stages of this year’s London Marathon. She finished fifth. From there, she and her family visited Rome where they met Pope Francis

Said the elated mum: “My daughter, Assumpta had a photo she brought from home and wanted to give Pope Francis. We took it when we had visited a school and it happened that on the backdrop of it there was a picture of Pope Francis on the wall as well.

“Assumpta wanted to take a picture with [picture of Pope Francis] him on the wall. It was about three years ago. So, when I was going to London, my manager, Gianni Demadonna, informed me of the possibility of going to Rome to meet the Pope but we knew how difficult it would be.

“When my daughter heard this, she reminded me of the picture she has taken and told me she would like to gift it to Pope Francis. I packed it for her and when the two met, he asked her what her name was and she responded Assumpta, picked for her by the late Bishop Cornelius Korir [of Eldoret, died October 2017].

Mary Keitany wins her fourth New York Marathon title in 2018

Mary Keitany wins her fourth New York Marathon title in 2018

“Bishop Korir who met us [me and my husband Charles] when I was expectant had said if we got a boy, we should name him Francis and if it was a girl we should call her Assumpta. We got a girl and that’s how she ended up with that name.

“Pope Francis was excited to receive the present and when Assumpta mentioned that was the two of them together on the picture. The Pope also asked my son what his name was and what we do. We told him and also explained that I am an active athlete. He told us to work hard and use the talent given by God well.”

Mary, three-time winner of London marathon and triumphant four times in New York, had also just ran this year’s London, coming fifth behind compatriot winner Brigid Kosgei.

Pope Francis was in Kenya in 2015 where he held a mass at the University of Nairobi grounds which was attended by thousands of Catholic faithfuls. People travelled from all over the country to Nairobi to attend his mass.

How did Mary Keitany feel about meeting the Pope for the first time?

She Said: “It was a surprise being in Vatican, something interesting I can’t even explain. I thought I would just see him from a distance, but being able to meet him in person and shake his hand was something else altogether and I will not forget that in my lifetime. Coming to Rome and meeting him was huge and I would not take it for granted. It was special for me and my family.”

-Additional reporting from allafrica.com

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