Kenenisa Bekele says London Marathon field will be ‘remembering’ Kelvin Kiptum

By Sports Desk April 19, 2024

Kelvin Kiptum will always hold a special place in the hearts of all marathon runners, according to veteran three-time Olympic track champion Kenenisa Bekele.

Kenyan long-distance runner Kiptum won last year’s London Marathon for the third time, but was killed in a car accident in February at the age of 24.

The death of Kiptum, who had gone on to become the first man to run the marathon under two hours and one minute in Chicago, sent shockwaves through the sport.

In winning last year, Kiptum set a new London Marathon record time of two hours, one minute and 25 seconds. He is to be remembered before Sunday’s race with 30 seconds of applause.

Ethiopian Bekele – who won Olympic gold in both the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres at the 2008 Games in Beijing – has run the London Marathon five times, and was runner-up in 2017.

The 41-year-old, who also has five World Championship titles on the track, has seen plenty of talent come through during his long career, but is in no doubt of the lasting impact made by Kiptum.

“Kelvin of course, all of us miss him,” Bekele said. “Even within his short time, he has been setting an amazing history.

“The course record is also under his name and we are all remembering him.

“We put him in a special place in our heart because in a really within a short time he has done a lot for our sport.”

Bekele feels a lot of factors will come into play if Kiptum’s course record is to be challenged.

“Most of the time in London, maybe the first half is a very fast start because of pacing, but with me it can depend,” he said.

“I can read my body, listening to my feelings and of course the circumstances – like with the weather.”

Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola comes into London as the reigning New York Marathon champion, which followed on from his victory at the 2022 World Championship in Eugene.

Tola, who claimed 10,000m bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics, feels in good shape heading into Sunday’s showpiece race.

“I have been working hard to prepare my body for the marathon in London,” he said.

“My training is OK and my body is okay, so we will see (what happens) on Sunday.”

Olympics selection could also be secured this weekend, but Tola will not let that distract his focus.

He said: “If I am selected for the Olympics, I will be happy, but it will depend on our race – and after Sunday we will know.”

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