Bekele to run Lon­don with eye on record

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LON­DON: Triple Olympic track cham­pion Ke­nenisa Bekele, the sec­ond-fastest marathon run­ner in his­tory, will make an­other at­tempt at claim­ing the world record over the clas­sic 26.2 mile dis­tance when he leads a stel­lar field for the Lon­don marathon in April.

Ethiopian Bekele, widely re­gardedas the great­est dis­tance run­ner of all time and world record holder over 10 000 and 5 000 me­tres, ran 2hr 3min 3sec when win­ning Berlin last Septem­ber, six sec­onds out­side Den­nis Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57 set on the same course in 2014.

Hav­ing been left out of the Ethiopian team for the Rio Olympics a month ear­lier it was a clear mes­sage from Bekele that he had mas­tered the marathon af­ter ini­tially pro­duc­ing very good, but not world best-threat­en­ing times in his first for­ays over the dis­tance.

The 34-year-old, with five track world ti­tles to his name over 10 000m and 5 000m, fin­ished third in Lon­don last year be­hind Kenyan duo Eliud Kip­choge and Stan­ley Bi­wott, and Kip­choge’s course record of 2:03:05 and Kimetto’s world mark will both be in his sights.

“Lon­don is the great­est marathon in the world and I would love to win there,” Bekele said in a state­ment is­sued by race or­gan­is­ers re­veal­ing the lineup yes­ter­day. “The field is al­ways the best and vic­tory means so much. Af­ter fin­ish­ing third last year, I know what I need to do to win.”

Bi­wott, who won the 2015 New York City Marathon, is likely to be Bekele’s main ri­val as he leads the Kenyan chal­lenge in the ab­sence of two-time cham­pion Kip­choge. Bi­wott fin­ished run­ner-up in 2014, fourth in 2015 and sec­ond again last year in a per­sonal best of 2:03:51.

The lead­ing pair are two of seven in the field who have run un­der 2:06, while the race will also fea­ture two marathon world cham­pi­ons, three of the top five fin­ish­ers from last year’s Olympics, and the win­ners of the Ab­bott World Marathon Ma­jors races in Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago and New York in 2016.

Abel Kirui, who won the world marathon ti­tle in 2011 and 2013, re­turns to Lon­don for the first time since 2012 when he was fifth, four months be­fore win­ning Olympic sil­ver in the same city. – Reuters

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