World Marathon record holder Dennis Kimetto has earned his place in the Kenya marathon team to the World Championships in Beijing in August.
Kimetto will renew his rivalry against New York champion Wilson Kipsang as they lead a six-member men’s team for the 42km race.
However, there will be no room for London Marathon Champion Eliud Kipchoge, who ruled himself out, citing fatigue and late notice. Also missing in the women’s team are New York Marathon champion Mary Keitany, Boston winner Caroline Rotich and World Half Marathon record holder Florence Kiplagat.
In the women’s team, defending champion Edna Kiplagat will be seeking to write history after becoming the first woman to win the world marathon championship twice, in Daegu 2011 and Moscow 2013. Kiplagat will be gunning for her third title as the world best in Beijing as she leads a five-member women team.
David Okeyo, Athletics Kenya (AK) Vice President, confirmed that Kipchoge and Rotich will not be in the team.
“We sent out notices to all these athletes. They had to confirm to us their availability. Kipchoge wrote to us saying he was unavailable. He said the time between his run in London and the World Championships was too short for his preparations.
“Rotich was initially in the list, but she has not confirmed to us if she is willing to run in the Beijing World Championships so we cannot have her in the team,” said Okeyo.
Naming a team of 12 runners from over 100 marathoners was always going to be hard for AK. Kenya will name its final teams of three women and a similar number of men to Beijing in July.
“When you look at these athletes, they have competed in big city marathons and they have the required experience. They have posted faster times of 2:06 and below for men and under 2:22 for women. It is a strong team,” said Okeyo.
Speaking from Eldoret, Kimetto expressed his joy for making the team Kimetto told FeverPitch: “I am ready to do this for Kenya. I have not been in any top international competition representing Kenya and this offers me the best chance.”
Kipsang, who won bronze at the 2012 Olympics in London, will have a chance to improve to gold when he runs in Beijing in August. He has been advocating for athletes’ right and his inclusion in the team will certainly pile pressure on him to perform and reclaim the gold from Ugandan Olympic and World Champion Stephen Kiprotich.
The surprise inclusion is Mark Korir, the Paris Marathon champion. Korir’s personal best of 2:05:49 was second at the 2013 Seoul Marathon. Although he has had some success over shorter distances, particularly 10km and half marathons in South America, Paris was without doubt the biggest win of his career.
Others are Felix Kipchichir Kiprotich (2:06:59) winner in Seoul, Humburg champion Lucas Rotich and Luka Lokobe Kanda (second at Paris Marathon in 2:07:20).
Team: Men-- Wilson Kipsang, Dennis Kimetto, Mark Korir, Felix Kipchichir Kiprotich , Lucas Kimeli Rotich, Luka Lokobe Kanda. Women -- Edna Kiplagat, Jemimah Sumgong, Helah Kiprop, Visiline Jepkesho, Janet Jelagat Rono.