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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya’s Chebii oozes confidence ahead of title defense in Japan 

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Defending champion Ezekiel Chebii of Kenya will put his title up for grabs during this year’s Lake Biwa marathon in Japan on March 4.

Chebii is one of three men in the field who have posted 2:06:00 times recently. His 2:06:07 in Amsterdam two years ago still stands as the fastest in the field, which also has fast runners Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) and Abera Kuma (Ethiopia).

Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday on his way to Japan, Chebii exuded confidence that he will triumph for the second year in a row to boost his chances of making the Kenyan team at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

“I have a plan to represent Kenya in Doha, but it has to start soon with win in Lake Biwa marathon. Then we will see what other races will come through and hope to carry the momentum. Last year it was tough to win and I expect the conditions to be even worse with tougher challenges from the opponents,” he said.

Alongside the trio, there will also be four Japanese men seeking to steal the show led by Gold Coast winner Takuya Noguchi, Takuya Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama.

The addition of sub-61 half-marathoner Kenta Murayama in his second shot at the marathon after a failed debut in Tokyo two years ago makes for a formidable quartet of men from 2017 and 2018 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei all aligned in training and talent.

Last year’s fourth finisher Satoru Sasaki has withdrawn from Sunday’s race after developing pain in his right knee and foot.

The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympian has a personal best time of 2:08:56 which had made him the fastest Japanese man in the field.

             

 

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