Top Kenyan athletes eye Tokyo marathon title

Nairobi, Feb 22 (IANS) Elite Kenyan runners competing at the Tokyo marathon on Sunday will be targeting two birds with one stone.

Both Wilson Kipsang and Bernard Kipyego hold onto outside chance that victory in the Japanese capital will earn them a slot in the Kenya squad for the London World Championships. And like other top runners, they are eyeing to break the world record on the fast Tokyo course, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The world record is not too far. I tried it in London, which is a tougher course we came seconds close to it. Tokyo is another chance for me to reclaim the title and I will do everything possible to run a faster race and hope to emerge victorious,” Kipsang said here on Wednesday.

However, for Kipyego, the two-time Amsterdam marathon champion, his return to Tokyo, where he won silver last year, will give him the chance to up his game and win gold.

Having won Amsterdam marathon in the last two years, Kipyego is inspired with the prospect of making the Kenya team and setting fast time as he seeks his first victory of the 2017 season.

Having missed out to make the Kenya team to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Kipyego has all his eyes trained on the challenge ahead, to beat his mentor and friend Kipsang.

To do that he must conquer the Tokyo course and hope the selectors back at home will consider him for the main team and not the reserve bench, which he was named in the buildup to Rio Olympics.

“I want to do my best in Tokyo and if possible win the title that I lost last year. I miscalculated my steps in the last miles of the race, which cost me the title,” said Kipyego.

He clocked 2 hours, 7 minutes and 33 seconds to finish second in Tokyo behind Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa (2:06.56). Now he believes he has the strength to make it to the exclusive club of athletes to record sub 2:03 times.

“By going to Tokyo, I will be facing world known marathoners and taking the title may not be easy but I will do my best,” added Kipyego.

–IANS

ajb/dg

Top