Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Top Kenyan stars in solidarity with London Marathon

Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (front) runs ahead of Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich (left) and Kenya’s Abel Kirui during the London Olympics marathon. Kiprotich and Kipsang will clash again in Sunday’s London Marathon.  AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN

Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (front) runs ahead of Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich (left) and Kenya’s Abel Kirui during the London Olympics marathon. Kiprotich and Kipsang will clash again in Sunday’s London Marathon. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN 

By AYUMBA AYODI sayodi@ke.nationmedia.com and AFP

Organisers of the London Marathon have urged people to come out and support Sunday’s race in the wake of the devastating fatal bombings at the Boston Marathon.

And former world marathon record holder Paul Tergat called on Kenyan athletes not to even ponder withdrawing from the London Marathon but compete and shame the perpetrators of Boston Marathon bombings.

Several Kenyan athletes led by defending champion and Olympic silver medallist Wilson Kipsang, current world marathon record holder Patrick Makau, world marathon Major champion Geoffrey Mutai and Emmanuel Mutai are already in London for the race.

Others in the field are Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich, who is set to renew rivalry with Kipsang whom he beat to the tape the London Olympic Games.

Three people were killed and over 180 injured many seriously, after two bombs were detonated as runners made their way towards the finish line in the US city’s race on Monday.

“Such attacks have no place in the sporting society and staying away will have strengthened the perpetrators’ course,” Tergat said. “I expect Kenyans to field strong and retain both titles.”

Tergat has participated in several London Marathon races, finishing second on debut in 2001 and 2002 respectively.

Makau said nothing is going to deter him from running in London and is determined to win after he withdrew last year following a minor muscle strain.

The organisers of the London Marathon have reviewed security measures for Sunday’s race in the British capital before confirming that the event would go ahead as scheduled.

A 30-second period of silence will be held before the start of the race in memory of the victims of the Boston attacks, while organisers are also encouraging competitors to wear black ribbons.

As yet, there have been no high-profile withdrawals from the event by elite runners, with British Olympic star Mo Farah among the top-level athletes scheduled to compete, although he is only running half the race.

“We are confident we are taking all reasonable and appropriate measures to ensure the race is safe for spectators, for runners and for the people of London,” said London Marathon chief executive Nick Bitel.

“It is a great occasion, the London Marathon, and I know people will want to send a message of support by coming out and supporting the runners on the day.”

However, former London Marathon champion Paula Radcliffe said that she would have doubts about taking her family to this year’s event.

“I have every confidence in the London Marathon community and the Metropolitan Police that they won’t let it go ahead unless they have done everything possible,” the women’s marathon world record-holder told BBC radio.

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