Kenyan marathon ace Abel Kirui is
targeting victory at both the London Marathon in April
and a third world title in the same city later in the
The 2012 London Olympics silver
medalist and two-time IAAF World Champion bounced back
to form when he won the Chicago Marathon last October,
ending a four-year injury nightmare that saw him fall
off the radar of elite runners at the ultimate distance.
Kirui, 34, was quoted in local press
describing his outlook for 2017, and declared he was
nearing his best form ever after recovering from knee
and achilles injuries that saw him miss the 2013 Moscow
and 2015 Beijing Worlds.
He has thrown his hat in the ring to
face what is expected to be an imposing field in the
April 23 London Marathon, where he is hoping to run to
the podium and convince Kenyan selectors to include him
in the country’s men marathon team for the World
Kirui, who ran to two fifth-place
finishes at the London city marathon with a time of
2:07:56 in 2012 and 2:08:05 in 2010 - is in line to take
on several fearsome competitors. This includes defending
and Olympic champion, Eliud Kipchoge (a fellow Kenyan)
and Berlin winner and Ethiopian track world record
holder Kenenisa Bekele.
“By the grace of God, I shall be going
for the third world title in London, but my greatest
desire is to be among the top three at the London
Marathon. The preparations are still on and I think
I shall get an invite,” he said.
“At the World Championships we need to
be always at the top. So when Kirui is there, be
assured I shall make it to the podium or we get the
top two positions. We need to retain our title as
the leaders in the world. If I manage to achieve
that, Kenyans will be happy and say that Kirui did
us proud,” Kirui told local website Citizen Digital.
Kirui was the third Kenyan after
Douglas Wakiihuri (1987) and Luke Kibet (2007) to win
the world title at Berlin 2009 and the first to
successfully defend it when he took gold at the 2011
edition in Daegu.
In Berlin, Kirui set a championship
record of 2:06:54 when leading compatriot Emmanuel
Kipchirchir Mutai (at 2:07:48) to the Kenyan 1-2 with
Ethiopian Tsegay Kebede rounding out the podium with a
time of 2:08:35.
Kirui held on to his title in South
Korea with the second-fastest winning time at the
biennial track and field global showpiece where he
clocked a season best of 2:07:38. His fellow countryman
Vincent Kipruto (2:10:06) won silver and Rio 2016
Olympics silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa from Ethiopia
took the bronze with a time of 2:10:32.
Kirui dethroned Dickson Chumba as
Chicago champion in a gruelling contest over the final
five kilometres as Kenyans occupied the first five
Chumba battled jetlag to come in
second with a time of 2:11:26. That was just four
seconds in arrears as Gideon Kipketer (2:12:20), Paul
Lonyangata (2:13:17) and Stephen Sambu (2:13:35) closed
the top five.
“Chicago was not easy; it was a matter
of life and death. Dickson is another talent, that
you cannot afford to undermine because he is an
under 2:05 guy and has been winning various races,
and knows what he wants,” Kirui said.
Kirui added that it took some strategy
to race Dickson.
“I had to tackle him tactically. All I
wanted to do is prove to my fans that I’m still
around and I have not become too old to be ignored.
When I finished, I danced in the Usain Bolt style,
which I also spiced with my own moves,” Kirui