Tokyo Marathon champion and new course record holder Wilson Kipsang arrived back home Saturday and announced that his mission to break the world marathon record is still very alive.
Kipsang was welcomed at the Eldoret International Airport Saturday morning by his wife Doreen, family members, relatives and friends.
He was garlanded with the traditional sinendet (ceremonial grass) by his father Joseph Sarguta and then took a sip of the traditional mursik (sour milk) provided by his mother Grace Sarguta.
After that, Kipsang, who is also running for the Keiyo South parliamentary seat through the Jubilee Party, was given a Jubilee branded hat and jacket, symbolising that he is now ready for the race to Parliament.
His training mate Geoffrey Mutai, once the fastest marathon runner in the world, then handed Kipsang a leader’s club.
Kipsang won the Tokyo Marathon last Sunday in a course record two hours, three minutes and 58 seconds, the fastest marathon time ever run on Japanese soil. It was also his fourth time to run the marathon in under 2:04.
Kipsang’s homecoming procession then moved from the airport to Eldoret town, Chepkorio, Kaptarakwa, Metkei and finally to Fluorspar in Elgeyo-Marakwet County where he was born.
“I’m happy that I ran well and recorded the fastest time in Japan. That was not my goal because I wanted to break the world record that’s being held by my friend Dennis Kimetto,” said Kipsang soon after landing at the Eldoret International Airport. Kimetto’s world record stands at 2:02:57, broken in the 2014 Berlin Marathon.
Before that, Kipsang held the world record at 2:03:23, set also in Berlin in 2013.
Kipsang said it was his first time to run in Tokyo and missing the world record by one minute showed that it is still possible to lower the mark.
“Having ran 2:03:58 in Japan showed me that it is still possible to lower the world record time and that’s still what I want to do in future,” said the athlete who is based in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County.
Kipsang, who has a personal best time of 2:03:13 that he recorded in the Berlin Marathon last year, said that he is done with one race and there are still two remaining — one for the parliament to represent Keiyo South and one more marathon race this year.
“I want to get on the ground now and talk with the people of Keiyo South before the nominations so that they can give me a chance to represent them in Parliament in this year’s elections,” said Kipsang.
Kipsang also said he’s open to selection to Kenya’s team to the World Championships that will be held in London in August.
“If Athletics Kenya name me in the team, I will be ready to represent my country even if the championships will be during the election period. I will balance my career with politics since I want to help many people in the society,” said Kipsang.
He said being in Parliament will also help him push various agenda, especially fighting for athletes and the community in general.
“What motivates me is running well and doing my best, including attempting to break the world record which is my dream. I still have more years to participate in athletics and retirement is not in my mind right now,” said Kipsang.
Kipsang also congratulated Sarah Chepchirchir who won the women’s category in the Tokyo Marathon saying she is strong and can do wonders if given a chance.
“I want to congratulate my sister Sarah (Chepchirchir) who ran her personal best and a course record (2:19:47) and that shows that if she trains well, she can break the women record in the Berlin Marathon which has a good course,” said Kipsang.
He urged young, upcoming athletes to train well and be patient.
“For the upcoming athletes, there is no short-cut in life. They have to continue training hard and stay focused in getting good results and that’s why some of us are still doing well,” said Kipsang.
His wife Doreen said she was happy with her husband’s performance and that was a good sign of things to come in the coming general elections.
“I was really praying for my husband to break the world record but he missed it by a minute. This is a good sign for his next step which is to run for a parliamentary seat,” said Doreen.