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Kenya’s Rionoripo eyes win at Tokyo
marathon, injured Defar to miss out

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Paris Marathon champion Purity Rionoripo of Kenya has said the withdrawal of injured Ethiopian Meseret Defar from the starting line-up will increase their prospects of winning the Tokyo marathon on Sunday.

Rionoripo, who is making her debut marathon on Japanese soil, is hopeful she will run faster time, though she ruled out going for the world record.

“I want to run fast time because I was told the course is good and designed to produce quick times. But it is about winning the race and not setting world records.

“To set a world record requires special training and strategy. This time round it is about running the beating your opponents then seek fast time,” Rionoripo said on Friday in an interview.

Ethiopia’s two-time Olympic 5000m champion Defar pulled out of the Tokyo Marathon due to a calf injury. Defar, who was plotting to launch her marathon career, will have to sit out and buy her time to debut in a different city.

Another runner who has also been announced to have pulled out of the starting line-up is German Anna Hahner, who has been struggling with a right thigh injury sustained during her last key session.

World silver medallist Helah Kiprop of Kenya has warned her rivals to expect a bruising battle in her defence of the Tokyo marathon on Sunday.

“I have cleared my training without any problems. I have pushed my body to the limit and hopefully, it will repay me with victory in Tokyo. That is why I’ m heading to Tokyo with my husband. Please support me,”  she said.

There will also be Ruti Aga of Ethiopia, who finished second at the 2017 Berlin Marathon in a personal best time of 2:20:41 and won the recent Houston Half Marathon in 1:06:39.

There is also fellow Ethiopian Shure Demise, whose 2:20:59 performance at the 2015 Dubai Marathon is the fastest performance ever by an Under-20 athlete.

In the men’s race, Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang hasn’t ruled out an attempt on Dennis Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57.

“I missed out on the world record narrowly last year and I want to see if I can be able to achieve that time on Sunday with my pacemakers,” he said.

Among the pacemakers assigned for the Tokyo Marathon is Kipsang’s brother Noah Kiprotich who has a 60:25 best time for the half marathon.

Kipsang ran the fifth fastest time in history in 2016 when he clocked 2:03:13 in Berlin and has vowed to target Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57 on the new Tokyo route, which has been made flatter and faster by the elimination of a number of bridges.

Kipsang is one of five runners in the elite men’s field with a sub-2:05 bets time. Others are Ethiopians Tesfaye Abera (2:04:24), Tsegaye Mekonnen (2:04:32) and 2016 winner Feyisa Lilesa (2:04:52) as well as Kenya’s Dickson Chumba (2:04:32).

Other standout names in the field include last year’ s Amsterdam Marathon winner Amos Kipruto (2:05:43), last year’s runner-up Gideon Kipketer (2:05:51) and Japanese half marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara (2:09:03).



Stomach problems force Kipsang to drop out of Tokyo marathon

NAIROB (Xinhua) -- Former Olympic bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang of Kenya said Sunday stomach problems forced him to stop midway through the Tokyo marathon course on Sunday.

Speaking moments after he dropped out of the race with only 15km done, the former world record holder said, “I really wanted to go fast, but after suffering from stomach problems the last two days before the race, I didn’t have the power to run a decent race today.”

In the absence of Kipsang, Kenyan Dickson Chumba was the strongest as he recaptured the title he last won in 2014, timing 2:05:30.

However, the hero of the day was Yuta Shitara of Japan, who was second clocking a national record time of 2:06:11. He improved the mark after 16 years and got 1 million U.S. dollar bonus for it.

In the women’s race, Birhane Dibaba of Ethiopia running a smart race, working hard after 30 km also achieved a second Tokyo title in 2:19:51, just four seconds off the course record.

Second Ruti Aga 2:21:19 and London World Championships bronze medalist Amy Cragg living up to her pre-race vow to make the top three in 2:21:42.


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