Childhood hardships that fuel stars at London Marathon

Kenya's Brigid Kosgei in action during the women's elite race.[FILE]

The storyline looks familiar. It's always childhood challenges that often fuel athletics stars' determination to excel in distance running.

And the script will be no different at the 43rd London Marathon tomorrow.

Defending champion Amos Kipruto, two-time New York Marathon winner Geoffrey Kamworor, Valencia Marathon winner Kelvin Kiptum, Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir and women's mixed race world record holder Brigid Kosgei as well Ethiopia's three-time Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele and Britain's track maestro Mo Farah share a cocktail of exciting tales: rags to riches.

They have simply carried a message of hope to the global stage. Interestingly, Bekele and Kipruto are both fathers of three children, while Brigid and Kipruto each has a set of twins.

Kamworor and Kipruto braved huge odds to complete secondary school education in Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi counties while Brigid dropped out of school while in Form Three for lack of school fees.

Kipruto comes from the Eastview area near Kapsabet, while Kamworor was born and bred in Chepsamo Village in Elgeyo Marakwet.

Kipruto, the world marathon bronze medallist, is not your typical Kenyan athlete.

From childhood, Kipruto nursed lofty dreams: to stage excellent shows in athletics. And it has come to pass.

Kipruto, who put on hold his athletics desires to concentrate on academics, has exhibited hard work and determination.

The former Rome Marathon winner, still draws inspiration from former world marathon record holder Paul Tergat.

He said he picked his running skills from Tergat and former Olympic marathon champion, the late Sammy Wanjiru.

The 30-year-old athlete said he watches their clips online, especially ahead of major races.

His memorable clip is that of Wanjiru battling Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kabede at the 2010 Chicago Marathon.

"In that clip, Wanjiru was behind at 35km to 40km, but he produced a powerful kick in the last two kilometres. It clearly shows that while competing in a marathon, you must have courage and stamina to run faster than expected," he said.

Kamworor's athletics scripts read like that of most Kenyan world-beating athletes in which he drew inspiration from.

Kamworor had an unbridled love for athletics from his childhood but haboured no interest in full-time athletics.

As a young boy, Kamworor could sneak away from home during weekends to the nearby athletics-rich Kapkenda Girls High School, where he peeped through the live fence to watch athletics world-beaters training.

Not bad for a boy who did well in English and had trained his sights to become a lawyer. Incidentally, he is a policeman and will always enforce the law.

The 23-year-old Kiptum, the winner of the Valencia Marathon and third fastest man in history at 2:01.51, has also come a long way.

He started running while a pupil at Kipchawat Primary School in Keiyo North Constituency where lived with his uncle.

Brigid, who set the women's mixed race world record of 2:14.04 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon where she erased Paula Radcliffe's record 2:15.25 set in 2003, has also come a long way.

"When I remember my humble beginnings and the challenges we went through, I feel I cannot get back to that kind of life and it pushes me to do well," said Brigid.

When her mother could not raise school fees, Brigid dropped out of school while in Form Three. And she decided to take up athletics.

Olympic 10,000 metres champion Kenenisa Bekele's father was reportedly opposed to his son's athletics career but relented when he saw it was driven by religious faith.

His father said he named him Kenenisa which means 'you brought me delight' in the Oromo language.

Britain's Mo Farah told BBC that he went to the UK from Somalia with his parents as a refugee.

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