Kenya’s Kipchoge in top shape for Delhi Half Marathon

Nairobi, Nov 16 (IANS) Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya has quashed any doubts about his fitness, saying he is focused on winning the New Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday.

Kipchoge said on Tuesday that he is saddened by the death of his predecessors Stephen Kiprotich’s father, which has forced the London 2012 Olympic winner to withdraw from the Delhi Half Marathon on November 20, reports Xinhua .

“It is sad to hear that my training partner is going through hard times on the loss of his father. But I have maintained my training and I am in good shape to win. I always want to put in the best and I know there are other athletes keen to take the title, but I will do my part and let them struggle to take it away from me,” he said Tuesday from Eldoret.

The event has a total prize money of 270,000 U.S. dollars with Asafa Powell, the Jamaican sprinter and three times world record holder, named its brand ambassador. This year’s event has attracted over 12,000 runners including 13 Rio Olympians.

Among the top contenders are Kenya’s world half marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir, Worknesh Degefa, a half marathon specialist who has run 22 marathons, Tanzanian runner Alphonse Sambu who was placed fifth at Rio Olympics, Gladys Chesir, who finished third at the ADHM last year and Tesfaye Abera, winner of the 2015 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.

Kipchoge, who turned 32 on Nov. 5, has put together a winning streak of seven successive marathons and is unbeaten over the classic distance in the past three years.

However, the New Delhi Half Marathon will be his first outing over a shorter distance since he finished sixth at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in February 2015.

“It’s been six years down the line since the Commonwealth Games were held in Delhi, where I got the silver medal in the 5000m,” Kipchoge said.

“I have great memories of my last visit to India and now I am ready to come back in a different capacity as a road racer. India is one of the world’s biggest hubs of technology and business but I am looking forward to visiting the country and once again experiencing competitive sport in India,” he added.

Kipchoge has a half marathon personal best of 59:25, which dates from 2012. Although he has not broken 60 minutes for the half marathon since then, he will still have in his sights the course record of 59:06 set by Ethiopia’s Guye Adola in 2014, which makes the race one of the fastest half marathons in the world.

Kipchoge and the rest of the elite runners will be chasing men’s and women’s first prizes of $27,000 from a total prize fund of $270,000.

–IANS

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