The Kenya men’s marathon team to Olympic Games has vowed to ensure a successful title defence at next month’s showpiece in London.
The three-man squad said they were determined to retain the late Samuel Wanjiru’s 42-kilometre crown at the summer Olympics that runs in London from July 27 to August 12.
Emmanuel Mutai, who won Sh48 million in a share of World Major Marathons (WMM) series jackpot, London Marathon winner Wilson Kipsang and two-time world championships gold medallist Abel Kirui, made the remarks just a day after they reported to the residential training camp at Kerio View Hotel in Iten last Sunday.
Mutai, who won the 2011 London Marathon in a 2:04:40 course record, said an Olympic gold was in sight if the preparations were anything to go by.
“I strongly believe that we can defend the Olympic marathon title. We are in good shape and, going by such a smooth training, it is possible for us to retain it,” Mutai told the Daily Nation after his speed work session at Chepkoilel University College track on Tuesday.
He said they prefer training under warm conditions in readiness for the summer weather conditions in London. “We train as a team but stick to individual training programmes.
“It helps because the strong efforts we put will help us achieve what we want,” said 28-year-old Mutai, who started running while attending Cheptigit and Koisagat primary schools in Uasin Gishu County.
Mutai, a Berlin World Championships silver medallist, said he was not keen to improve his personal best time at the Olympics.
But Kipsang, the reigning London Marathon winner, said: “I cannot say it is not possible to run faster times but I will try it out. And if the weather conditions will allow me in London Olympics, then I will not let it go.”
The on-form Kipsang boasts of best times in half marathon and full marathon, standing out as the sixth fastest time over 21-kilometre (58:59 minutes) and a second world best official 2:03.42 time he posted at the BMW Frankfurt Marathon last year.
Kirui, who won Berlin (2009) and Daegu (2011) Worlds marathon battle, has his task cut out in London.
“We raced with Mutai and Kipsang in London. I understand them well as people who are disciplined and respect the spirit of team work. We first want to win gold so as to give our departed brother Samuel Wanjiru a good honour,” said Kirui.
The three are likely to meet Ethiopians Ayele Abshero, the Dubai Marathon champion and world leader, Getu Feleke, the second place finisher in Rotterdam Marathon; and Dino Sefer, third in Dubai.