Can Kenya’s inexperienced squad end six-year wait for men’s marathon gold at World Championships?

ATHLETICS Can Kenya’s inexperienced squad end six-year wait for men’s marathon gold at World Championships?

Joel Omotto 20:51 - 26.08.2023

Kenya last won the men’s marathon gold in 2017 and the weight of expectations is on Titus Kipruto, Timothy Kiplagat and Joshua Belet against the seasoned Ethiopians.

Three Kenyan men have the difficult task of reclaiming the World Championship marathon title that was last won in 2017 by Geoffrey Kirui.

Kenyan men had it rough in Doha 2019 and Eugene 2022 and matters are made more difficult by the fact that Athletics Kenya was forced to field a second-string squad to the 2023 World Championship in Budapest, Hungary.

Titus Kipruto, who finished fourth at this year’s Tokyo Marathon, is the only man who remained from the initial list fielded by Athletics Kenya and he will be joined by Rotterdam Marathon silver medallist Timothy Kiplagat and Hamburg Marathon silver medallist Joshua Belet.

Kiplagat was previously a reserve while Belet made the team for the first time. The two came in as replacements for London Marathon champion Kelvin Kiptum and three-time World Half Marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor, who opted out in favour of the more lucrative city marathons.

The relatively unknown trio have their work cut out given Ethiopia have defending champion Tamirat Tola, 2022 Amsterdam Marathon winner Tsegaye Getachew, who finished third in Tokyo this year, and Leul Gebresilase, the 2022 London marathon silver medallist.

The trio might have watched how Kenya’s women's marathon team was destroyed by the well-coordinated Ethiopians to end up empty-handed with the scorching Budapest heat also another concern ahead of Sunday morning’s race (8 a.m. Kenyan time).

Team Kenya will also have to watch out for Uganda’s Victor Kiplangat, Stephen Kissa, and Andre Rotich who will be seeking to emulate compatriot Stephen Kiprotich who won the world marathon gold at the 2013 edition in Russia.

Tanzania’s only representative in Budapest Alphonce Simbu might also pull a surprise given he has great experience on the international stage after winning bronze at the 2017 World Championships and silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.