Tokyo, March 5 (IANS) World men’s marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya said here on Saturday that he hopes to add the Tokyo Marathon title to the gold medal he claimed at last year’s Olympic Games.
Kipchoge, who holds the world record of two hours, one minute and 39 seconds, told a pre-race news conference: “I want to show everyone in Japan and all my fans (my strength). I will be happy if I can do that.”
The 37-year-old retained the Olympic title last summer when the marathon race of the Tokyo Games was held in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo to avoid the hot and humid weather.
“I especially wanted to come back to Japan because I was able to win a gold medal at two consecutive Olympics. (The race which was supposed to be in) Tokyo ended up being held in Sapporo. I want to run in the streets of Tokyo. I want to show that running is my life.”
The 2021 Tokyo Marathon, originally scheduled last October, was forced to be moved to March 6 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kipchoge will face a tough challenge from Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia, who has the fourth-fastest record in the world at 2:02:55, reports Xinhua.
Geremew said he will aim for 2:03:30 on Sunday, adding, “I am fully prepared.”
When asked about Kipchoge, he expressed his respect and also promised to give his best. “He is a strong athlete. I am proud as a fellow African. With sports, you never know what will happen. I hope to run at the best time possible.”
Two-time reigning champion Birhanu Legese was confirmed to have withdrawn from the event.
In the women’s field, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, who took silver at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, is confident.
“I hope to break the event record (2 hours 17 minutes and 45 seconds),” she said. “I’m in good shape and I’ve been training.”