Kenyans go for fourth con­sec­u­tive New York sweep

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Kenyans Stan­ley Bi­wott and Mary Kei­tany chase re­peat vic­to­ries and more - as the ma­jor marathon sea­son con­cludes in New York City to­day.

Suc­cess would en­sure Kenya of a fourth con­sec­u­tive sweep of New York ti­tles and give Kei­tany her third straight vic­tory but both run­ners have some added mo­ti­va­tion.

Bi­wott, the fastest man in the field, won his first ma­jor marathon on the New York streets last year, but must erase any doubts about his fit­ness af­ter drop­ping out of the Rio Olympic marathon mid-race in Au­gust. “This will be my chance to prove I am still a wor­thy bet in run­ning,” the 30-year-old Lon­don Marathon run­ner-up told re­porters in Nairobi. Kei­tany bids to be­come the first woman in three decades to win New York three con­sec­u­tive times. Nine-time win­ner Grete Waitz was the last, her streak of five in a row end­ing in 1986.

But the 34-year-old Kei­tany, an over­whelm­ing favourite, also is look­ing to re­mind Kenyan se­lec­tors once again of their mis­take in not pick­ing her for the Rio Olympics. “I thought I earned a ticket to Rio,” Kei­tany said on Fri­day. “So let me just fo­cus on the marathon for New York and come to de­fend my ti­tle.”

Ethiopian Ase­le­fech Mer­gia, the 2015 New York City run­ner-up, should again chal­lenge Kei­tany with the for­mer’s com­pa­triot Buzunesh Deba and Kenyan Joyce Chep­kirui also in the mix.

US Olympic triathlon gold medal­list Gwen Jor­gensen and Molly Hud­dle, the Amer­i­can record holder at 10,000 me­tres, will make their marathon de­buts in the women’s race.

Bi­wott’s big­gest threats among the 50,000 run­ners ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate in the race through New York City’s five bor­oughs are likely to come from fel­low Africans Ghir­may Ghe­bres­lassie of Eritrea, Ethiopian Lelisa De­sisa and Kenyan Lu­cas Rotich.

Ghe­bres­lassie fin­ished fourth in Rio and at the Lon­don Marathon af­ter be­com­ing the youngest ever world marathon cham­pion last year at age 19.

De­sisa, 26, has twice won the Bos­ton Marathon and fin­ished sec­ond there this year. He placed third in New York last year. The 26-year-old Rotich’s cre­den­tials are not as im­pres­sive, but he con­tin­ues to im­prove on the roads and is one of only five men in the field who have bro­ken two hours and eight min­utes for the marathon. One other is three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzen­hein, who with a per­sonal best of 2:07.47 is the top hope for the United States, which last won the race in 2009. — Reuters

CHICAGO: Chicago Cubs fans at­tend a rally in Grant Park to cel­e­brate the team’s World Se­ries vic­tory on Fri­day in Chicago, Illi­nois. Hun­dreds of thou­sand of peo­ple lined the streets in down­town Chicago as the team pa­raded by in dou­ble deck buses on the way to the rally. — AFP

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