Nairobi, March 15 (IANS) Chicago Marathon champion Abel Kirui of Kenya wants to prove his critics wrong as he seeks to conquer the English capital road race by winning twice in London, later this year.
First he has a small challenge to secure victory at the London marathon on April 23, which will serve as a major catalyst for his selection into the Kenya team to the World Championships in London in August, reports Xinhua news agency.
Two years ago, Kirui had his ego badly bruised when the panel of Kenya team selectors overlooked his participation for the 2015 World Championships and Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“It still pains me that I missed the two events. It was the right decision by the coaches not to think of me. I was just returning from injury and had no race time in my training. But it is always an honour to compete for Kenya and on that basis, my heart sunk for not being part of the team,” he said on Wednesday.
Well, he has the chance to atone that by giving himself a head start should he win the London marathon next month.
“I have already shown great interest and fitness. In competing at the Barcelona Half Marathon this year, I showed what class I have and I am so happy with the time I clocked of 61.30 minutes. Certainly it is a good start towards my target of winning in London,” Kirui said.
But Kirui will not be running alone in London to secure his ticket for the Kenya team to the World Championships.
There will be a horde of young and experienced talent on show who will be keen to cut him back to pieces as they go for the gold medal and lucrative price pack on offer.
“I have done well to show that I still have the energy and the tactics to win big city marathons irrespective of who I compete against,” he said.
Of the 17 marathons that Kirui has finished to date, the former Olympic marathon silver medallist has made it on to the podium in more than half of them. And of his four marathon victories, two of them were at the World Championships.
Just four other athletes — Abel Anton, Jaouad Gharib, Catherine Ndereba and Edna Kiplagat — have won two world titles in the marathon.
Kirui now hopes to become the first person in history to win three world marathon titles in August in London.
Kirui, once one of the six fastest men in history, has learnt that fast times do not count for much in a championship setting. When he ran his personal best time of 2:05:04, he was sixth on the world all-time list.
By the time he won his second world title in 2011, he had slipped to 10th. Six years on from that, with the depth of marathon running having gone from strength to strength, Kirui is now 33rd on the world all-time list.
Kirui, however, is still a contender and nobody can rule him out of London quest for glory.