7 Sep

No Substitute For Kirui

Kirui

After retaining his marathon title in the final day of the Daegu World Championships, Abel Kirui revealed that he was only selected for this year's Kenyan team after several athletes pulled out. Such is the depth of their long-distance team, Kirui was originally overlooked by the Kenyan selectors and only made the cut once three of the country's athletes declined the offer to race.

Perhaps even more surprising is, Kirui, 29, said he could not be certain of making the team for the London Olympics, "I hope I have an automatic ticket now but only the coach will know."

The ease in which Kirui completed the race, however, and the considerable time between him and his closest competitor, fellow Kenyan Vincent Kipruto, will have surely allayed fears of any omission from next year's event. With a time of 2:07:38, Kirui finished a staggering 2mins 28secs ahead of Kipruto, the largest winning margin in championship history.

While the first 20k saw a pack of six runners keeping up with the champion, the decisive break occurred between 25k and 30km, with Kirui completing the distance in 14:18, the fastest split at a world championship race. With enough energy left after crossing the line, Kirui performed a victory dance before moving aside to await the arrival of Kipruto and the third-placed Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia.

The race ended in a double celebration for Kenya with the country winning the world cup team title after the runners finished 1, 2, 5, and 6. This, in addition to Edna Kiplagat's victory in the women's marathon, meant a highly impressive showing for the Kenyan long-distance runners at this year's World Championships.

You get the impression that after his comfortable victory in Daegu, the Kenyan selectors may well be dancing to Kirui's tune for the 2012 London Olympics.