5 things we learned from the Elite Men’s London Marathon news conference

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Photo credit: Pool
Photo credit: Pool

While there may be no Eliud Kipchoge at this year’s London Marathon, the Elite Men’s field is still packed with talent. The three favourites on Sunday – Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata and Birhanu Legese, and Kenya’s Evans Chebet – know what it takes to win big-ticket marathons. Kitata won the elite-only race here last year, while Legese is the third-fastest marathoner of all time, and Chebet was the fastest marathoner in the world in 2020. RW was among the world’s media to interview them about Sunday’s race. Here are some of the headlines.

1. Defending champion Shura Kitata is carrying a slight hamstring injury

‘I’ve had some late problems but I’m still running to win,’ he said. ‘I was prepared very well before the Olympic Games and, just two weeks before, had a hamstring injury. But I’m feeling ready to run on Sunday. The hamstring pain comes only at very high speed.’

2. The Kenya vs Ethiopia rivalry is a great motivator

‘It’s true, the race is usually a big competition between Kenya and Ethiopia, and we expect it to be the same on Sunday,’ said Kitata. ‘It will be very hard but we believe we will win.’ Kenya’s Evans Chebet added: ‘The rivalry is there. I know that the Ethiopians are used to kicking in the last 200m so it will be a challenging race and it’s going to require a lot of strength in the end to win the race.’

3. The course record will be under threat

Birhanu Legese’s PB is only 11 seconds slower than Kipchoge’s course record of 2:02:37. He believes, if conditions are favourable, he could beat it. ‘It depends on the weather on the day,’ he said. ‘If the weather is good, I plan to break the record; that’s my target and I’ve prepared for it.’

4. They’re excited to be back running in front of crowds

‘It’s been a tough time,’ said Legese. ‘But we are pleased that everything is returning to normal and are looking forward to hearing the cheering of the crowd. It encourages us a lot. It makes a big difference.’

5. Kipchoge gives Chebet confidence – but he has his own motivation

‘If Eliud is watching, it gives me morale to run faster,’ said Chebet. ‘But we [he and his competitors on Sunday] have our times already and my goal is to get a personal best – maybe 2:02 or 2:03, depending on conditions. I’m looking forward to the race. If Eliud is watching that gives me morale, but I have my own motivation – and that is to win.’

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