Nairobi, April 23 (IANS) Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele, two of the world best marathon runners, were due to clash on Sunday in London but have been forced to shelve the plans with the event postponed due to the coronavirus.
Instead, the two will be at their homes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Eldoret, Kenya with their families, reports Xinhua news agency.
Kipchoge reminisces that it was this week seven years ago that he made his debut in a marathon in Hamburg, Germany, clocking an impressive 2:05.30.
“On this day in 2013, I ran the very first marathon of my life. The memories of my debut in Hamburg are actually really good, I won this marathon in 2:05:30. It has been a beautiful journey so far,” Kipchoge said on Wednesday.
But with the prospect of the two clashing in London on Sunday now impossible, Kipchoge will focus on remaining fit for future competitions.
London would have been their fifth time racing together in a marathon. Kipchoge has won all four previous encounters.
However, for Bekele (2:01:41), he believes a clash between the two would serve as the highlight of the track and field program, especially should the pair be included in their respective teams for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
It’s anticipated Kenenisa will return to the Olympics after his shock exclusion by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation for Rio 2016.
Kipchoge has already secured his spot in the Kenya team and will do everything to defend his title.
“One year is not a long time,” Bekele, 37, a three-time Olympic champion, albeit on the track, told the Olympic Channel regarding the Games postponement to July 2021.
“I hope I can stay in good shape, disciplined, because one year is just tomorrow. The most important thing is to stay healthy and stay fit.”
Bekele, who has overcome an Achilles tendon injury, believes he can shave more than a minute off his personal best, and even lower the official world record to less than two hours.
The current mark of 2:01.39 was set by Kipchoge in Berlin in 2018.
Only Kipchoge has run under two hours, albeit in closed conditions and with aids, at the Vienna course back in October, where he posted a time of 1:59.40.
“I’m sure, it’s possible to run that time (two hours),” Bekele told the Olympic Channel.
“I can run maybe faster than the world record, maybe close to two hours or something. It’s down to the weather conditions and a good course.”