Cherono takes on Bekele in men’s battle on Sunday

By JONATHAN KOMEN: Friday, October 19th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics

Organisers of the 42nd Amsterdam Marathon have entered a sizeable number of debutants for the Sunday’s showdown.

Linet Masai, the 2009 world 10,000m champion, will make her maiden appearance in marathon. Others are Jackline Chepng’eno, the 2009 Africa junior bronze medalist and Jonathan Korir.

Ethiopia’s two-time Olympic 5,000m champion Meseret Defar, Meseret Belete Zinash Mekonen and Zinash Mekonen are other debutants who will renew rivalry against the Kenyans.

It will be interesting to watch as Masai faces Defar on the roads after a number of battles on the track.

In 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Defar led in the 10,000m until the last 50m when she dramatically lost power and allowed Masai to sprint to victory.

Masai then lost to Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba in the 2010 Africa Championships where Defar settled for silver in 5000m.

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It remains to be seen if their decade-old battle on the track and cross country will stretch to road running.

Masai and Defar are known for strong kicks and spectators will be keen to watch them battle particularly after the half way mark — just at the turning point in the famous Ouderkerk and while running along Amstel River — where exciting battles often start.

Lawrence Cherono, the defending champion, set the course record of 2:05:09 last year and faces Ethiopia’s multiple Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele, the third fastest marathoner in history at 2:03.3.

But Cherono, who trains at Global Sports Communications camp in Kaptagat alongside marathon maestro Eliud Kipchoge, expects a good race.

“I have been training well. I have not had injury in the last three months. I look forward to a good race. I still long to lower my personal best,” said Cherono.

“I went to London Marathon well prepared in April but I picked up an injury during the race, which slowed me down. I expect good results,” he said.

The start line features experienced stars in Gideon Kipketer (2:05.54), Laban Korir (2:05.54) and Ethiopia’s Mule Wasihun (2:05.39).

Kipketer longs to emulate his elder sister Valentine who won the race in 2013.

Bekele will be competing in his first marathon on Dutch soil.

Robert Chemosin (2:08.05) and Hillary Kipsambu (2:08.05) are among other Kenyans who will be battling for glory.

Kenyan-turned-Turk Kaan Özbilen (2:06:10), Solomon Deksisa (2:06:22), Tadu Abate (2:06:54) and Yenew Alamirew (2:08:56) of Ethiopia are also in contention.

Jackline Chepng’eno is Kenya’s sole representative in the women’s race and will battle Ethiopia’s  Defar.