The double Olympic Marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge will be hoping to write history and win his third consecutive crown next year during the Paris Olympics two months after his disappointing performance at the Boston Marathon where he finished distant sixth
The world record holder regarded as the greatest marathon runner of all time has set himself many challenges in his dazzling career, and remains insatiable despite his two Olympic titles, his world record of 2:01:09 in Berlin in 2022 and an incredible 15 wins in 18 marathons he has entered.
He broke the mythical two-hour barrier over the 26.2 mile (42.195 kilometre) distance in Vienna in 2019, with a time of 1:59:40, but the feat was not recognised as an official world record as it was not in open competition.
Victory has eluded the 38-year-old in the Boston and New York marathons, which if he won would make him the first man to have all six major titles under his belt.
“The priority now is to focus on the Olympics and win a third time. The other (challenges) will come later,” Kipchoge says in an interview with AFP at the renowned Kaptagat training camp in Kenya’s Rift Valley.
His two Olympic marathon gold medals in 2016 and 2021 put him at level pegging with Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila (1960, 1964) and Waldemar Cierpinski of East Germany (1976, 1980).
A third gold at the Paris Olympics in 2024 would make Kipchoge the undisputed marathon giant at the Games, and bring him a victory steeped in symbolism.
The French capital was the city where he won his first international crown in 2003 at the age of 18, clinching the 5,000 metres world championship title ahead of sporting legends Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.
However, Kipchoge does not rule out giving up on his other goals.
“If time comes in to hang the racing shoes, I will say bye to other big things in sport.”
Sitting on a shaded bench in the Kaptagat camp where he has lived and trained for several months a year for 20 years, Kipchoge looks back on his poor showing in Boston on April 17, where he dropped from the lead group in the 30th kilometre.
This rare failure dampened his spirits.
“I’m trying to forget what has happened in Boston. It’s caught in my mind… but I believe that what has passed has passed.”
With his lifelong coach Patrick Sang, he has analysed the reasons for his disappointing performance, saying “it’s mostly the hamstring”.
He brushes aside concerns about his difficulties on hilly courses such as Boston and New York and which will also confront him in Paris.
“It is not really a concern, but I respect everybody’s thoughts,” he says. “I think it was a bad day and every day is a different day. I’m looking forward for next year.
“Everybody can write anything, you have no control. But I know myself.”
Kipchoge is now preparing for his final marathon of the year.
“I’m doing well. My training is going on in a good way,” he says.