Nairobi, Aug 30 (IANS) Former two-time world marathon champion Abel Kirui of Kenya has dismissed critics, saying he remains strong to retain his Chicago marathon title on October 8.
Kirui, 35, missed out on the podium finish at the London Marathon in April and wants to overcome that disappointing performance with a fast run in Chicago, reports Xinhua news agency.
However, Kirui has ruled out going for the world record on the fast Chicago course, but will welcome running another personal best time.
“I had high expectations for London marathon. It was a strong performance and finishing fourth was a good attempt. But now that is past. I must focus on defending my title in Chicago,” Kirui said on Tuesday from Eldoret.
“Prior to London Marathon I suffered a hip injury while in training and I competed not at 100 percent. It has since healed and am enjoying training here in Eldoret. I had a tendon injury two months ago but I took my time, it’s now fully healed.”
Kirui’s strong kick and change of tack was enough to see him fend off a late surge from then defending champion Dickson Chumba.
Kirui faces one of the strongest fields ever assembled on October 8 as he remains optimistic that he will prove his performance was no fluke.
“It is true before last year win in Chicago, I had a lot of injuries. But I am now fine and looking forward to challenge for the medal. I have been injury free this season and hopefully that will see me reap the dividends with another win in Chicago,” he said.
Chumba will not be back to try and reclaim his crown, but that does not mean that Kirui will have a walk in the park to win his second title in Chicago.
There will be world record holder Dennis Kimetto, who won in Chicago back in 2013.
Kimetto, just like Kirui, has had a struggle to remain injury free and has not registered a single win in any marathon in the last three seasons.
Kimetto holds the Chicago course record of 2:03:45 when he won in 2013 and will be hunting for top podium finish.
His last conquest was in Berlin, 2014 when he set a World Record (WR) of 2:02.57. There will also be Stephen Sambu from Kenya. In his marathon debut last year, Sambu clocked 2:13.35 for fifth place.
Athens 2004 Olympics bronze medallist Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, could spoil the party for Kirui given his speed over the 10,000m and the half marathon (WR 58:23).
After retiring from the track, Tadese has only finished three marathons; London 2010 and 2012 and the Nike Breaking2 marathon.
He failed to finish in Chicago and Boston back in 2013 and 2015. But has a personal best of 2:10.41.