Geoffrey Kirui is ready to defend his marathon title come the World Athletics Championships slatted for September 28 to October 6 in Doha, Qatar.
Kirui, who will be representing the country for the fifth time at the championships, vowed to do everything in his disposal to ensure the title he won in 2017 London remains in the country.
Kirui, the 2018 Boston Marathon champion, was among five athletes picked on Monday by Athletics Kenya in the provisional men’s team for the World Championships where they will be seeking their sixth title.
Two times women’s World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat will lead the women’s assault as they eye their fifth crown.
“I feel honoured once again to be picked to led the assault,” said the 26-year-old Kirui, who finished second in 2018 Boston Marathon before settling fifth on April 15 this year in the same race.
“I was all set to reclaim my Boston Marathon title but I felt some pain in my leg in the last 800m to ruin my chances,” said Kirui, who described the selected squad as strong.
Also in the men’s team and set to make their debut at the World Championships are the 2018 Paris Marathon champion Paul Lonyangata, Amos Kipruto, who finished fourth at last Sunday’s Prague Marathon, Laban Korir and Ernest Ngéno.
Lonyangata, who was gunning for a historic third consecutive win in Paris on April 14, ended up finishing third, having also finished fourth in Chicago and fifth in Boston in 2016.
He is also the winner of 2015 Shanghai International Marathon.
Kipruto has been consistent over the years, winning Seoul Marathon in 2017, before finishing third (2:06:33) in Tokyo Marathon in 2018 and second in Berlin Marathon
Surprise exclusions are London Marathon champion Brigid Kosgei and Berlin Marathon winner Gladys Cherono, who many expected to make the women's team especially after the 2018 London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot withdrew.
Besides Kiplagat, who won the title in 2011 and 2013 before settling for silver in 2017 London, the women's team has Ruth Chepng’etich, who ran the third fastest time in women’s marathon history while winning in Dubai in 2:17:08 on January 25 this year.
The 2016 Paris Marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho, who won in Rotterdam last year, will be eying her second appearance at the Worlds after 2015 Beijing and Sally Chepyego wrap up the women’s team.
AK senior vice president, Paul Mutwii, said the team will start training in July in Kaptagat under coaches Joseph Cheromei and Richard Kimetto.
“We picked the team basing on world ranking and availability,” said Mutwii.
Kenya marathon team
Men: Geoffrey Kirui, Paul Lonyangata, Laban Korir, Amos Kipruto, Ernest Ngeno.
Women: Edna Kiplagat, Visiline Jepkesho, Sally Kipyego, Ruth Chepng'etich.