Uganda/Kenya: Kiprotich, Kipchoge to Face Off in Hamburg

The global athletics fraternity is struggling to get out of the coronavirus web. Whereas vaccination has become the song across the world, event organisers are still struggling to put races up amid restrictions.

As a result, several elite marathoners have been deprived of activity. Most of them have gone a year or more without races yet, the Tokyo Olympics are closing in within four months. Top Dutch athletics management body Global Sports Communication (GSC) has opted to take up the duty to stage the NN Mission Marathon in Hamburg, Germany on April 11.

GSC’s top runners including 2016 Olympic champions Eliud Kipchoge have been lined-up for the 42km race on a 10.5km-looped city course. And so is Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich.

Good company

The 2012 Olympic marathon champion Kiprotich in company of compatriots Filex Chemonges and Geoffrey Kusuro will face 36-year-old Kipchoge, arguably the greatest marathoner ever with 11 wins out 13 marathons.

“Last week the federation (Uganda Athletics Federation) informed us that anyone wanting to qualify for the Olympic marathon should run before April 15 to be considered,” said Kiprotich’s manager Jurrie van der Velden.

“So we don’t have much choice unfortunately, especially now due to lack of races,” added GSC’s Jurrie.

This is the first time Kiprotich and Kipchoge will be facing off since the latter smartly stripped Ugandan of the Olympic title in rainy conditions of Sambódromo, Brazil five years ago.

More importantly, Kiprotich who hasn’t run a full marathon since finishing 18th in 2:15:04 at the Doha

World Championships on October 5, 2019, is under pressure to make the desired grade to Tokyo. He is among the eight male Ugandan marathoners who have already beaten the 2:11:30 standard for the only three available quota places to the quadrennial Games.

But the 2013 World champion ranks fourth on the list with his best time 2:08:31 set when he finished third at the 2019 Hamburg Marathon.

Chemonges leads that septet with the best time of 2:05:12, a national record, set when he finished third at the Toronto Marathon in Canada on October 20, 2019.

Qualifying window

The marathon qualifying window began from January 1, 2019 to April 5, 2020 and after postponement due to Covid-19, it opened again from December 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021.

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