The dream by Stanley Biwott of winning his maiden London Marathon on April 23 after playing second fiddle in three occasions has gone up in smoke.
Biwott, who should have celebrated his 31st birthday in style during the race, has been forced to withdraw with a persistent hamstring injury according to a statement on the event’s website.
Biwott, who won the 2015 New York City Marathon, was Kenya’s leading hope to win the prestigious men’s title on 23 April. Kenyan athletes have won 11 of the last 13 men’s races, including the last three thanks to Wilson Kipsang and Eliud Kipchoge. Biwott finished runner-up in 2014, fourth in 2015 and was second again last year in a personal best of 2:03:51 as Kipchoge set a new course record. He has withdrawn from the race because he doesn’t feel able to perform at his best.
Biwott’s withdrawal comes after World marathon record holder Denis Kimetto and former World marathon record holder Kenya’s Patrick Makau withdrew from Boston Marathon planned for Monday owing to knee injuries.
“I thought I had the injury under control but in the last 10 days the problem has gotten worse,” he said. “I don’t feel I can be a protagonist in London this year as usual, but I will come back in 2018 and try to win the race.”
Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele finished third on his London Marathon debut 12 months ago and went on to win the Berlin Marathon last September with the second quickest time in history.
He is one of six men in the field with who have run marathons quicker than 2:06, while the line-up contains two marathon world champions, three of the top five finishers from last summer’s Olympic Games, and the winners of the Abbott World Marathon Majors races in Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago and New York in 2016.
The Ethiopian contingent is especially strong this year and the main challenge to Bekele may now come from his compatriots. Among those likely to threaten the triple Olympic track gold medallist are the Rio Olympic silver medallist, Feyisa Lilesa, the 2016 Dubai Marathon champion, Tesfaye Abera, and Tilahun Regassa, who finished fifth and sixth in London in the last two years.