NAIROBI, Kenya, April 20- Retired legend, Kipchoge Keino, has added his voice to the raging international debate over whether Geoffrey Mutai’s 2:03:02 winning effort at Monday’s Boston Marathon should be accorded world record status.
Keino, the 1968 and 1972 Olympics champion widely regarded as the father of Kenya’s athletics, said the decision solely lies with the sport’s governing body IAAF whose rules bar the Boston course as a world record admissible route.
“It is all up to the IAAF to decide,” Keino who is an International Olympic Council member said Wednesday adding, “But I believe the marathon record will return to Kenya soon and our runners are capable of breaking it on any course in the world.”
The pioneer athlete expressed satisfaction on improved performances by his distance running successors saying, “Our athletes are now training hard and putting more focus in the sport that is why they are succeeding so much.”
“We have the parents also to thank for allowing their children, especially girls to train and travel unlike the past when they were not offering support. We are seeing even husbands telling their wives to leave home and train and this has seen our female runners perform well.”
He added: “Nowadays, there is no discrimination between male and female runners and if all concerned unite, sports can do so much for this country.”
Kipchoge who retired in 1973 after adding three Commonwealth and two All Africa Games gold medals to his collection says the sport has ceased being viewed as a leisure activity and urged the Government to take cue.
“Our ministry and others should use sports as a development tool more since it is generating good income for the youth in this country. I have always said sports can be a solution and recent performances by our athletes show this.”
The legends’ take on the Mutai issue followed officials of Boston announcing they would petition IAAF to recognise the fastest ever run over the distance as the official world record, erasing the 2:03:59 recognised mark run by Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie in Berlin in 2008.
On Tuesday, London Marathon champion, Emmanuel Mutai, who won with a blistering course record of 2:04:40 on Sunday also stated similar observation that it’s only a matter of time before Kenyan distance exponents own the marathon top mark.
Mutai talked of a two hour marathon upon his return urging fellow athletes to pool their efforts towards returning the world record taken from Paul Tergat by Gebrselassie home.