Doping? Kenya down to just one athlete in women’s marathon
What you need to know:
- Uganda’s Solomon Mutai and Robbie Simpson of Scotland sealed the other podium places in Gold Coast.
- Julius Karinga and Kenneth Mung’ara were the best placed Kenyans in ninth and 10th places respectively.
The 2020 Los Angeles Marathon champion Margaret Wangari will be a lone ranger in Kenya's quest to recapture the women’s marathon title today at the Commonwealth Games here.
Wangari, 36, is the only athlete Kenya had entered in the women's marathon race that starts at 1.30pm Kenyan time.
The men's race starts at 12pm.
Wangari's partners - 2019 Standard Chartered Bank Nairobi Marathon champion Purity Changwony and 2021 Rotterdam Marathon champion Stella Barsosio - had not been entered for the race.
However, unconfirmed reports disclosed that the two might have flagged for an anti-doping test.
The doping allegations is something that has caught Team Kenya management by surprise again after World Athletics stopped Philemon Kacheran from competing at the “Club” Games after another anti-doping rules violation.
Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei, who is in Birmingham, said he is not in a good position to comment on the issue, saying it’s only Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak), who were qualified to talk about it.
However, Adak’s director of education, Agnes Mandu, who is also in Birmingham, said she can’t comment on issues that are not official yet.
“It’s not in order talking about things that are not official,” said Mandu.
Nevertheless, Wangari was bullish saying that by the grace of God, she will conquer the course to bring back home the title.
“I came here prepared for any conditions since I have trained well in Ngong,” said Wangari, who is also the 2019 Honolulu Marathon winner.
Wangari, 36, has personal best of two hours, 29 minutes and 29 seconds from her victory in Los Angeles two years ago.
Wangari is making her second appearance at Commonwealth Games, having settled for fourth place in the 5,000m at the 2014 Glasgow Games.
Determined to return the “Club” Games honour to Kenya, Wangari will face among others Namibian Helalia Johannes, who is back to defend her title.
Johannes, 41, won the women’s race at the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Australia and she will be aiming to repeat her gold medal-winning performance against a field that is starving just as much for success.
Irene Jerotich and Flomena Cheyech won the 2010 Delhi and 2014 Glasgow editions respectively before Johannes ended Kenya’s reign in Gold Coast.
They are the only Kenyan women to win at the Commonwealth Games.
Sheila Jerotich was the best placed Kenyan in Gold Coast, finishing fourth behind Johannes and home athletes Lisa Weightman and Jessica Trengove.
Kacheran's exit left the onus on Eric Kiptanui, who finished third at the 2021 Chicago Marathon, Jonathan Korir and the 2021 Fukuoka Marathon champion Michael Githae, 27.
Kiptanui, 32, a fifth place finisher at Boston Marathon in April, has a personal best 2:05:47 from his victory in Xiamen Marathon last year.
Korir, 35, fourth in 2019 Berlin Marathon, has personal best 2:04:32 in from firth place finish at 2021 Amsterdam marathon while Githae, who finished 10th in Tokyo Marathon in March, has career best of 2:07:51 from his victory in Fukuoka last year.
Korir starts as favourite being the fastest in the pack followed by Kiptanui and then Githae.
Northern Irish runner, Kevin Seaward, who finished fourth at the last edition at Gold Coast 2018, makes a return alongside Alphonce Felix Simbu of Tanzania, the 2017 World Championships bronze medallist.
Simbu was seventh place finisher at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021, is among the fastest in the field with personal best of 2:06:20.
Strange enough, despite being a powerhouse in marathon, Kenyan men have only won twice in the past 21 editions of the events.
Legendary Douglas Wakiihuri won in 1990 Auckland, New Zealand with John Kelai going for the victory in 2010 Delhi, India.
For the first time in four editions, Kenyans failed to reach the podium as home athlete Michael Shelley made history as the only other man to have defended his marathon title at the “Club” Games with victory in 2018 Gold Coast.
Shelley’s compatriot Robert de Castella won back-to-back in 1982 Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and 1986 Edinburgh, Scotland.
Uganda’s Solomon Mutai and Robbie Simpson of Scotland sealed the other podium places in Gold Coast.
Julius Karinga and Kenneth Mung’ara were the best placed Kenyans in ninth and 10th places respectively.