Kipchoge: Kenya’s ace card in marathon title race
Posted by African Press International on August 21, 2016
STEVE OMONDI -1 | Jumamosi, Agosti 20, 2016
IN RIO DE JANEIRO
The showstopper of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the men’s marathon, Eliud Kipchoge on Sunday provided Kenya with a perfect opportunity to end the Games on a high note.
There are two things that worked for Kenya ahead of the last event of the Games.
One is the massive boost that Team Kenya received after Jemima Sumgong became the first Kenyan woman to win a marathon gold medal at the Olympics last Sunday.
The other is the depth and experience of the Kenyan team. The trio of Wesley Korir, Eliud Kipchoge and Stanley Biwott are considered seasoned runners each capable emerging victorious in Rio.
While Korir, by default led the team in an official capacity as the overall captain of Team Kenya in Rio, on the actual course of the race, the defacto leader in the country’s quest for only its second Olympic marathon title was Kipchoge.
Kipchoge, Korir and Biwott all be aimed to mirror the late Samuel Wanjiru’s blistering performance in Beijing 2008 where he won Kenya its only marathon gold medal in the Games in an Olympic record of 2:06:32.
Fresh from retaining the London Marathon in April, Kipchoge remains the second-fastest man in marathon history following the 2:03:05 that he ran in the English capital four months ago.
Unlike Korir and Biwott, who are making their first appearances at the Olympic Games, Kipchoge is a veteran of two Olympics with a silver (5,000m, Beijing 2008) and bronze medal (5,000m, Athens 2004) to show for.
All three have also enjoyed varying degrees of success in major city marathons in recent years. Apart from the two London wins, Kipchoge has also tasted victory in the recent past in Hamburg (2013) and Berlin (2013, 2014).
Korir, an elected Member of Parliament for Cherangany Constituency, has triumphed in Boston (2014), Los Angeles (2009 and 2010) as well as in Chicago (2012).
Victory at the Paris Marathon (2012), in a course record of 2:05:11, and New York in 2013, rank among Biwott’s finest achievements. But watch out for the Ethiopians, Tesfaye Abera, Lemi Berhanu and Fayisa Lilesa.
Also in the reckoning will be reigning Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda and compatriot Solomon Mutai, a bronze medallist at last year’s World Championships in Beijing, China.
While the three will draw inspiration from Sumgong’s victory shortly after winning the London Marathon, they will be fully aware that success in city marathons doesn’t always translate to success in championship events such as the Olympics, as history has proved.
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