World-record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei headline the six-runner Kenya Olympic marathon team, one so strong that Mary Keitany, the third-fastest woman in history, was left off.
The rest of the team: Lawrence Cherono (reigning Boston and Chicago Marathon winner), Amos Kipruto (world bronze medalist), Vivian Cheruiyot (2018 London Marathon winner and Olympic 5000m champion) and Ruth Chepngetich (world champion).
Kipchoge will try to become the first repeat Olympic marathon champion since West Germany’s Waldemar Cierpinski in 1980 and only the second man or woman to win multiple marathons at fully attended Games after Ethiopian legend Abebe Bikila in 1960 and 1964.
Kipchoge won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.
He’s undefeated since the start of 2014 at 26.2-mile races. He lowered the world record from 2:02:57 to 2:01:39 in Berlin in 2018, and on Oct. 12 ran 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible event. Kipchoge takes on the second-fastest marathoner in history, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, in the London Marathon on April 26.
A day after Kipchoge’s sub-two-hour feat, Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.
Kipchoge and Cherono are the two fastest Kenyan marathoners since the start of 2018. Kipruto, second to Kipchoge at the 2018 Berlin Marathon, is the 28th fastest, though he was the top Kenyan at last year’s world championships, which lacked most of the world’s best.
Cheruiyot is one of Kenya’s greatest track runners with four world titles between the 5000m and 10,000m. She was second to Kosgei at the 2019 London Marathon and is the sixth-fastest Kenyan woman since the start of 2018.
Chepngetich had a brilliant 2019, winning the January Dubai Marathon in the then-third-fastest time ever and then taking a brutally hot world championships marathon by 63 seconds.
Keitany, 38, likely sees the end of her Olympic career. She owns the fastest marathon run without male pacers, a 2:17:01 from the 2017 London Marathon. She owns seven combined titles between the London and New York City Marathons and was fifth and second in those races last year. Keitany had accepted a spot in April’s Boston Marathon but as of last week was sidelined by a back injury and not part of the announced elite field.
Keitany, fourth at the London Olympics, was also left off the 2016 Olympic team.
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