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12 April 2024

Kipchoge stands in way of Farah London Marathon glory

Photo: AFP


Mo Farah says turning his attention to running marathons has helped him get his mojo back as he prepares to take on world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge on the streets of London on Sunday.

Four-time Olympic champion Farah turned his back on the track in 2017 to concentrate on long-distance road running, finishing third in London last year and claiming the European record when winning his first marathon in Chicago in October.

Farah will be keen to focus on the race after the run-up to the event was dominated by an extraordinary feud with Haile Gebrselassie, which has seen the pair publicly swap accusations about events at the retired Ethiopian's hotel.

Farah, 36, who has hinted that he may come out of retirement from track events and compete at Tokyo 2020, said running marathons had revitalised him.

"I am happy and I am enjoying it," he said. "I am still waking up in the morning hungry and when I moved on from the track I feel like I am more hungry.

"When I turned up to the track and you are winning so many times you get used to it. I don't have that. I feel like I have got my mojo back."

The Briton said his duel with Kenya's Kipchoge is good for the profile of the sport.

"Eliud is a great athlete, he's won so many marathons and I've won a lot of medals on the track but this is the next quest of my career. I really believe I can run well and win more major marathons," he said.

Kipchoge shattered the world record in the marathon in Berlin last September, clocking 2hr 01min 39sec to shave 78 seconds off the previous mark.

World record-holder

The Kenyan, chasing a fourth title in London, has won 10 of the 11 races he's contested over the distance, including the 2016 Olympic title.

He is impressed by the strides Farah has made over the distance but does not fear his British rival.

"No, it doesn't worry me but it makes me get interested in him, because that's what you want in sport," said the 34-year-old. "That's what helps you perform."

"The world record is out of my mind right now but if I can win again in London, I will be a happy man because it will be my first race after running a world record," he added. "London is crucial in my career - for me, it's the next thing after breaking a world record."

In the women's race, defending champion Vivian Cheruiyot, 35, is gearing up for a battle against three-time winner and fellow Kenyan Mary Keitany, who has also won four times in New York.

"We are friends, but when it comes to the race we have to fight, we have to be rivals," said Cheruiyot, the reigning Olympic women's champion over 5,000 metres.

Keitany, 37, is delighted to be back in London.

"It means a lot to me and it's not something I take for granted. It's very special to me and my family," she said.

"If I win on Sunday, it would be special too. I have won New York four times and London three times, so I want to win on Sunday to match."