NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Defending champion Dickson Chumba said
Wednesday that he is not under pressure to retain his title but
is keen to improve his time at the Tokyo Marathon on March 3.
Chumba, together with a fit again former world half marathon
record holder Florence Kiplagat who will be making her debut in
Japan, will lead a strong Kenyan delegation in the race, which
is part of the World Marathon Majors (WMM) with a prize pack of
Kenya shillings 8 million shillings (80,000 U.S. dollars) to the
"It is a great chance for me to return to Tokyo and defend my
"I have been training hard and will be ready for the
challenge in March," said Chumba from Eldoret.
Chumba, however, faces the harshest test against third
fastest marathon athlete Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese of
The Kenyan delegation that will be running alongside Chumba
include Former London marathon bronze medalist Bedan Karoki,
Marius Kipserem, who is fresh from winning the Abu Dhabi
marathon in the United Arab Emirates.
There is also Gideon Kipketer, who was fourth in Tokyo last
year, Nobert Kigen, fifth from the Valencia Marathon.
"It was my first time in Abu Dhabi and I was very happy with
the route of the marathon.
"I also set a fast personal best time.
"But the best challenge will be in Tokyo, where I know will
act as a good course to prove to the selectors that I am worthy
to be named in the Kenya team to the World Championships," said
He clocked 2:04:04 in Abu Dhabi in December to take more than
two minutes off his best time, which he had set while winning
the 2016 Rotterdam Marathon, moving him to 12th on the world
In the women’s field, Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat, who returned
to action in October after a one year absence with injury, will
be keen to win on her debut in Japan.
"The injury is over. I showed in Chicago, I was fit and was
unlucky to finish fourth.
"Now I target to win in Tokyo and it will be nice if I can
improve on my best time," said Kiplagat.
However, the 33-year-old will have to do with a strong
headwind coming from competitor Mimi Belete and Berlin Marathon
silver medalist Ruti Aga.
There is also Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo, Kenya’s Ruth Chebitok
and Joan Chelimo in the line-up.
Two years ago, former world record holder Wilson Kipsang
recorded the Japanese all comers record of 2:03:58 in Tokyo.
This year, the 13th edition of the Tokyo Marathon, is
expected to be even more exciting.