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Kenya’s Kabuu seeks glory in Tokyo marathon on return from injury 

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Lucy Kabuu faces a big challenge to overcome her niggling injuries as she puts up a big fight to win Tokyo marathon on Sunday.

Kabuu, 33, is the fastest athlete on the women’s front on paper thanks to her personal best time of 2:19:34, although that was five years ago and the Kenyan hasn’t raced a full marathon since January 2015.

She will come up against Ethiopian Birhane Dibaba who eyes to reclaim the Tokyo title she won two years ago. Dibaba ran her best time of 2:22:30 as runner-up in Tokyo in 2014, but she’ll face stiff opposition this year from a trio of quicker runners.

“I have no fear of my opponents. My injuries are over and the most important thing is to feel how fast I can run in competition and hopefully win the race,” said Kabuu.

The Kenyan has not given up hope on representing her country at the World Championships in London in August and believes a win in Tokyo will give her the opportunity to make the team.

“I want to compete at the world championships and winning in Tokyo will bring me closer to making the team because it is up to the selectors to name their best athletes to represent Kenya,” she said.

Other top contenders in the women’s field are Ethiopians Amane Beriso and Amane Gobena. Beriso was second at the Dubai Marathon last year in 2:20:48 while the experienced Gobena ran her best of 2:21:51 to finish runner-up in Tokyo 12 months ago.

Meanwhile, former world marathon record holder Wislon Kipsang wants to hit two birds with one stone in his quest for glory in Tokyo.

First is to make an attempt to set a new world record and second is to win the race and increase his point tally for the coveted World Marathon Majors (WMM) bounty of 500,000 U.S. dollars.

Kipsang and 2014 Tokyo Marathon champion Dickson Chumba, both of Kenya, can leap to second on the men’s leaderboard with 42, and 41 points, respectively, if either wins Sunday’s race, the seventh event in the year-long eight-race contest to find the world’s best marathon runners.

Ethiopian Dibaba will close the gap on the women’s leaderboard if she reclaims the Tokyo title she won two years ago.

While Kenya’s Jemima Sumgong sits pretty on 50 points, thanks to her wins in London and Rio Olympics. Dibaba can move to second above Florence Kiplagat with a 25-point victory on Sunday. The Ethiopian is now seventh on 16 points after placing second in Berlin.

Kipsang, who was second at the Berlin Marathon in September, and Chumba, runner-up in October’s Chicago Marathon, will be vying to add another 25 points to their totals on the revamped Tokyo course.

The series is due to reach its conclusion at the Boston Marathon on April 17 with Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge holding on to what appears to be unassailable lead with 50 points, courtesy of wins in London and Rio Olympics Games.

Kipsang ran the fifth fastest time in history five months ago when he clocked 2:03:13 in Berlin and has vowed to target Dennis Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57 on the new Tokyo route made flatter and faster by the elimination of a number of bridges.

Chumba’s course record will certainly be under threat as six men in the elite field hold personal bests quicker than the existing mark of 2:05:42. 

           

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