Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomesportMarathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum sidesteps talk of two-hour mark

Marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum sidesteps talk of two-hour mark

NAIROBI – Kenya’s freshly minted marathon world-record holder Kelvin Kiptum says he has “no plan” to try and run under the mythic two-hour mark.

He was speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday, back home 48 hours after slicing 34 seconds off the previous best time set by his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge.

Only 23 and competing in just his third marathon, Kiptum lit up the streets of Chicago on Sunday to clock 2hr 35sec.

“I’ve got no plan to run under two hours but only to improve my own record,” said Kiptum, who had won on his debut over the 42.195km distance last December in Valencia before doubling up in London in April.

Kiptum was tearing up the marathon record books just weeks after Kipchoge celebrated his fifth win at the Berlin Marathon, where he had established the previous world mark of 2:01:09 in 2022.

Kipchoge, at 38 and 15 years Kiptum’s senior, has broken the two-hour barrier when he clocked 1:59:40 but that was achieved with the aid of pacemakers in a project backed by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos in Vienna in 2019 and consequently not recognised by World Athletics.

Kiptum’s breakthrough comes at a time when athletics superpower Kenya is investing heavily in testing to combat a surge in doping cases, with a total of 67 Kenyans banned in the last five years for doping.

Kiptum now owns three of the top six all-time fastest marathons.

He received a hero’s welcome on his return home on Tuesday following his record-breaking victory in Chicago and was awarded 5 million shillings (S$45,700) by the Kenyan government.

Kiptum caused a stir at Nairobi’s bustling Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as the waiting crowd surged to greet him once he touched down.

Moments after his arrival, he was adorned with leaves from the revered sinendet tree, a tradition his native Kalenjin community reserves for adorning important guests or warriors returning from a conquest.

After being carried shoulder-high the moment he left the arrival terminal, his wife Asenath Kagogo gave him a swig of mursik, a fermented milk drink from a traditional gourd, as his son Caleb, seven, and daughter Precious, four, watched on.

His parents, relatives, friends, and officials from Athletics Kenya were also at the scene. Kiptum was then whisked away in a convoy of sport utility vehicles to a Nairobi hotel, where he addressed a press conference attended by the local and international media.

Attention is now turned to a possible showdown at the Paris Olympics with Kipchoge, who is gunning for his third gold after Rio in 2016 and the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021.

“Every athlete is happy to represent their country and I am looking forward to run in the marathon in Paris,” said Kiptum.

He added: “I have not received a personal message from Eliud Kipchoge. But if I am selected to compete in the Paris Olympics, I am ready to race with him.” AFP, XINHUA

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