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.
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
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.
record will certainly be under threat as six men in the elite
field hold personal bests quicker than the existing mark of