By David Karanja/AFP
Kenya’s Mary Keitany targets to claim her third women’s title when she lines up this Sunday in the London marathon.
After winning in 2011 and 2012, Keitany suffered her first defeat on the London course 12 months ago to Ethiopia’s Tigist Tufa while another Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye settled for third position.
The diminutive Kenyan who won the New York Marathon last November to claim the World Marathon Majors prize, insists she is ready to join Ingrid Kristiansen, Katrin Dorre and Paula Radcliffe as only the fourth woman to win the London Marathon three times.
Kenyan men have won seven out of the past 16 London competitions and Kenyan women six, while Ethiopians have won just twice in each category. Reigning WMM champions Eliud Kipchoge and Mary Keitany will lead a strong Kenyan contingent that also includes former London Marathon winners, Wilson Kipsang and Priscah Jeptoo.
With places in the Rio Olympics team up for grabs, the Kenyans are eager to put in their best performances. A new antidoping law, due to be passed before May 2, is aimed at saving Kenya’s runners from a threatened Olympics ban after a spate of positive drug tests.
Men’s champion Kipchoge said his goal is Olympic selection, not breaking the course record of 2:04:00 set in 2014 by fellow Kenyan Wilson Kipsang.
“I always love the challenge of competing in the big city marathons. But I cannot say I will be going for the course title.
“Marathon running is a team event,” said Kipchoge, who is set to face Kipsang and world-record holder Dennis Kimetto in a repeat of last year’s London Marathon.
Keitany finished runner-up to Ethiopian Tigist Tufa in the women’s race last year, but the mother-of-two has the fastest time on the start list for London.
Buoyed by a solid performance during her New York marathon title defence last November — when she relegated Tufa to third place — Keitany believes she is strongly placed to become only the fourth woman runner to win the London Marathon three times.