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Olympic probables, the profiles- Men

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NAIROBI, Kenya, January 17- Following the announcement of the Olympics marathon probables line-up on Tuesday, here are the profiles of the selected men athletes.

GEOFFREY MUTAI

A former construction worker around building sites in Eldoret, Geoffrey Kiprono Mutai ran the fastest marathon in history with his sensational 2:03:02 at last year’s Boston Marathon. While aided by a tailwind, Mutai averaged a breath-taking 4:41.5 per mile.

He also the course record at New York City in the fall with a 2:05:06 with the time slashing 2 minutes 37 seconds from a course record that had stood for 10 years.

Mutai ran 2:12:22 in a marathon race at Eldoret, Kenya in December 2007 but given that Eldoret is at 6900 feet of altitude and the winning time there was 2:10:45, it is not likely the course was the full distance.

After winning two fall marathons in Eindhoven, Mutai first stepped up to a World Marathon Majors race at Berlin in 2010 and came ever so close to pulling off another victory.

He was alongside countryman Patrick Makau as they reached the Brandenburg Gate within sight of the finish but despite having superior 10,000 meters speed, he could not match Makau’s final burst. He came up two seconds short in 2:05:10.

With a half-marathon PR of 59:30 (Valencia, 2009) and a 59:43 victory at the Ras al Khaimah Half-Marathon in January 2010, he produced another superb marathon performance in Rotterdam last April.

Going into the last few kilometers he was even with Makau and Vincent Kipruto, all running at a sub-2:05 pace. Makau was able to open a gap but Mutai hung on to finish in 2:04:55 making him equal to the fifth fastest marathoner in history at the time.

With his 2:03:02 (Boston) and 2:05:06 (New York City) in 2011, Mutai set a record of 4:08:08 for fastest two race total time in a single year.

Mutai is the oldest of nine children and was born in the Koibatek District in the Rift Valley Province. He says that running came to him naturally as a youth. Mutai is married to Beatrice with a daughter Ivy born in 2009. He is not related to 2011 London Marathon winner, Emmanuel Mutai.

D.O.B: 7 October 1981

PERSONAL BESTS: 2:04:55 (Rotterdam, 2010); 2:03:02a (Boston, 2011)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

November 2011- Winner, New York Marathon (2:05:06/course record)
April 2011- Winner, Boston Marathon (2:03:02/Course record)
March 2011- Fourth, senior men 12km race, World Cross Country
September 2010- Second, Berlin Marathon (2:05:08)
August 2010- Third, 10,000m, Africa Athletics Championships
April 2010- Second, Rotterdam Marathon (2:04:55)
October 2009- Winner, Eindhoven Marathon (2:07:01)
April 2009- Eighth, Daegu Marathon (2:10:45)
October 2008- Winner, Eindhoven Marathon (2:07:50)
March 2008- Winner, Monte Carlo Marathon (2:12:40)

MOSES MOSOP

Known as ‘Engine Kubwa’ (Big Engine) for his powerful running, Mosop has often flickered on and off the scene with a catalogue of injuries curtailing his progression.

But one thing is for sure, when he is on song, few can live up with the sheer force he shifts his legs.

Mosop, one of the most reclusive runners who rarely offers interviews or finds himself in the media apart from when he posts commanding performances first came to the international radar at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki where he took bronze as when barely out of his teens.

He broke to the Kenyan squad for the 2004 Athens Olympics where the greenhorn finished a commendable seventh in the 10,000m final having finished at the same positions on his national team debut at the 2003 World Cross in Lausanne (junior race).

Mosop was to improve during the 2007 World Cross in Mombasa where he battled the intense heat and losing a shoe in the early stages of the race to win individual senior 12km silver.

Injuries plagued his career evolution and on his return to the World Cross at the 2009 edition in Amman, Mosop could only muster and 11th finish in the senior race despite coming to the event as the Kenya champion.

He stepped up from the track in 2010 by winning Stramilano Half Marathon in a brisk 59:20 where it was mentioned he would make the switch to full marathon.

Despite never having run a marathon prior to Boston in 2011, Mosop took down all but one of the greatest fields ever assembled.

While he wound up four seconds in arrears of winner Geoffrey Mutai, his wind-assisted time of 2:03:06 was some two minutes and 44 seconds faster than anyone else had ever run in a debut.

At Chicago in October, Mosop broke that race open at 20 miles with successive miles of 4:38 and 4:37. Although at mid-2:04 pace 35 kilometers, he slowed significantly in the final miles but hung on to take four seconds off the course record.

He also has a 10,000m PR of 26:49.55 and in Eugene, Oregon on June 3 last year, he set track world records at 25,000 meters (1:12:25.4) and 30,000 meters (1:26:47.4).

D.O.B: 7 July 1985

PERSONAL BEST: 2:05:37 (Chicago 2011)/2:03:06a (Boston 2011)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

October 2011- Winner, Bank of America Chicago Marathon (2:05:37/Course record)
April 2011- Second, Boston Marathon (2:03:06a)
March 2007- Second, World Cross Country (senior)
August 2005- Third, World Championships (10,000m)

EMMANUEL MUTAI

Having evolved to become the perennial bridesmaid, Emmanuel Kipchirchir Mutai, finally caught the bouquet last year with a polished course record performance in London that was capped by a first World Marathon Majors victory in November.

After three straight runner-up finishes Mutai broke through with his first Majors victory in a big way at London where he crushed the field with a sub-62 minutes second half as his 2:04:40 smashed the course record and made him the fourth fastest marathoner in history at the time.

At New York City in November, Mutai lost the battle but won the war. His final time of 2:06:28 left him 82 seconds behind winner Geoffrey Mutai, but his second place finish scored him enough points to take home the $500,000 (Sh43.4m) World Marathon Majors prize for 2010-2011.

He made a break-through to world class marathon running in 2007 where had it not been for Haile Gebrselassie’s world record of 2:04:26 in Berlin, Mutai would have been the fastest marathoner in the world in 2007.

Certainly there was no bigger surprise than the 2:06:29 the 23-year-old turned in to win the 2007 Amsterdam Marathon as earlier in the year he had run just 2:13:06 to place seventh at Rotterdam.

In that race he had gone out at a brisk pace of 1:03:54 for the first half, but on that warm day he slumped to more than 69 minutes for the second half.

At Amsterdam with the weather close to ideal, Mutai actually had a slower first half split (1:03:56) than Rotterdam and with the competition keeping up the pressure didn’t secure the victory until the last kilometre. His second half took just 1:02:33.

Mutai managed to shave 14 more seconds off his PR with his 2:06:15 at the 2008 London Marathon. Despite trailing winner Martin Lel by exactly one minute, Mutai ran the fastest fourth place time ever.

After a fifth place in Chicago that October, he returned to London in 2009 and once again placed fourth.

At the 2009 World Championships, Mutai was the final challenger to eventual winner Abel Kirui. He fell back in the final five kilometers and despite being physically sick down the final stretch to the finish line, Mutai was rewarded with the silver medal. His time of 2:07:48 was under the previous World Championships record by 43 seconds.

London 2010 was the site of his second straight World Marathon Majors runner-up finish. He produced his fourth lifetime sub-2:07, just eight seconds off his PR with Ethiopia’s Tsegay Kebede leading him to the altar.

Mutai grew up in Tulwet, a village near Kericho in the Rift Valley Province, and his extended family includes Richard Limo, the 2001 World Champion over 5000 metres.

D.O.B: 12 October 1984

PERSONAL BEST: 2:04:40 (London, 2011)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

November 2011- Second, New York Marathon (2:06:28)
April 2011- Winner, London Marathon (2:40:40/Course Record)
November 2010- Second, New York Marathon (2:09:18)
April 2010- Second, London Marathon (2:06:23)
August 2009- Second, World Championships (2:07:48)
April 2009- Fourth, London Marathon (2:06:53)
October 2008- Fifth, Chicago Marathon (2:15:36)
April 2008- Fourth, London Marathon (2:06:15)
October 2007- Winner, Amsterdam Marathon (2:06:29)
April 2007- Seventh, Rotterdam Marathon (2:13:06)

PATRICK MAKAU

Escape from poverty is what led Patrick Makau Musyoki to adopt athletics as a career when the opportunity presented itself.

Makau smashed the world record by 21 seconds at the last year’s Berlin Marathon with a time of 2:03:38. He ran a superbly paced race with splits of 1:01:44 and 1:01:54. En route he passed 30 kilometers in 1:27:38, another world record.

At London 2011, Makau crossed the line in his fourth marathon in 2:05:45, his fourth time at 2:06:14 or faster. He had a bad fall earlier in the race and just got out-kicked by previous three-time winner Martin Lel in the race for silver.

Makau won the 2010 Berlin Marathon under challenging conditions when despite a heavy rain throughout the day he finished in 2:05:08.

That was good for a two second win over countryman Geoffrey Mutai who had stayed with him until the final few hundred meters.

Makau’s time was the 11th fastest in history and he also became just the second man to run two marathons under four hours ten minutes in a calendar year.

The 25-year-old Kenyan had come to Berlin as the fourth fastest marathoner in history having run the fifth fastest time. He achieved these honours at the Rotterdam Marathon in April when he reached the finish in 2:04:48.

Makau was ahead of the course record (2:04:27) and just off the world record (2:03:59) halfway through in 1:02:06.

But he was accompanied by several other Kenyans and an Ethiopian through the late stages of the race when they ran into the wind and fell off record pace. A strong surge over the final stage took Makau to his victory in just his second completion.

The year before Makau ran a spectacular debut in Rotterdam although it was somewhat overlooked in the 2:04:27 first and second place finishes. Makau’s fourth place 2:06:14 was the second fastest first-time marathon in history.

Makau made his reputation as a half-marathoner of the highest order. He is a two-time World Championships silver medallist, the third fastest man of all-time (58:52) and broken the one hour barrier a record eight times.

One of those came at the City-Pier-City race in March, when he won by one second in 59:51.

He is also a two-time winner of the Berlin Hal marathon (2007, 2008) and a two-time winner of the Berlin 25km (2006, 2007).

Makau is from Manyanzwani, in the Eastern Province of Kenya and the second of five children, he went to Unyuani Primary School until 1999, after which he joined Kyeni Academy, Misiani. Makau and his wife Catherine have a daughter, Christine Mueni, born in 2008 with a brother/sister due anytime.

After establishing himself as one of the finest distance runners on the planet, Makau’s flight from squalor has seen him engage in many economic interests which include real estate and masonry which involves cutting bricks for sale in Nairobi.

Makau is responsible for the construction of commercial buildings in Machakos and his native Tala. Farming also gets attention in coffee and maize cultivation.

D.O.B: 2 March 1985

PERSONAL BEST:
2:03:38 (Berlin, 2011)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

September 2011- Winner, Berlin Marathon (2:03:38/WR)
April 2011- Third, London Marathon (2:05:45)
September 2010- Berlin Marathon (2:05:08)
April 2010- Winner, Rotterdam Marathon (2:04:48)
November 2009- DNF New York Marathon
April 2009- Fourth, Rotterdam Marathon (2:06:14)

ABEL KIRUI

He is the only the third man on the planet and first from his nation to win the World Championship marathon race back-to-back.

If he adds the Olympics crown to his collection this summer, Kirui will become the only man to hold both titles concurrently.

He might not have expected to stay anywhere close to Haile Gebrselassie who went after and set a new world record at the 2007 Berlin Marathon, but Kirui had every reason to be proud of his effort there.

Taking every advantage of ideal running conditions and the fast course, he smashed his previous personal best by almost four full minutes and finished in second place with a 2:06:51. Kirui was the sixth fastest man in the world for 2007.

The previous year at Berlin he finished in the top 10 with a time of 2:17:47. Ten weeks later, running under challenging heat and humidity in Singapore, he managed to take more than two minutes off that time.

Kirui then made an even bigger improvement in Vienna in April 2007 when he placed third in 2:10:41.

Kirui’s first marathon in 2008 was as a pace-setter for Gebrselassie at Dubai in January where he did not complete the race. He did not finish the Tokyo International Marathon in February, but was a big winner when he returned to Vienna two months later and set a new course record.

He again joined Gebrselassie at Berlin in September and although passing 30km in 1:28:25, a couple of seconds ahead of the world-record holder, Kirui did not make it to the finish line.

Six months later at Rotterdam he reached the finish in spectacular fashion. Although somewhat overlooked behind the Kwalia-Kibet battle ahead, Kirui clocked a 2:05:04 to make him the sixth fastest man in history with the eighth fastest time.

Kirui was the fastest entrant in the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. He was among a group that passed halfway in 1:03:03. By 35 kilometers, it was down to Kirui and Kenyan teammate Emmanuel Mutai in 1:44:56, 2:20 ahead of the event record split from 2003.

With 5 kilometers to go, Kirui moved ahead and stretched the lead, breaking the finish line tape in 2:06:54, a World Championships record by 97 seconds.

Running his first London Marathon in 2010, Kirui stayed with eventual winner Tsegaye Kebede until the final few miles, before falling back to fifth place.

After a ninth place at New York in 2010 and a non-finish in London in April 2011, Kirui struck gold again at the World Championships in Daegu.

Burning a 14:18 split at 30km – the fastest 5km split in World Championships history – he went to win by record margin of 2:38 with the second fastest WC time of 2:07:32.

D.O.B: 4 June 1982

PERSONAL BEST:
2:05:04 (Rotterdam, 2009)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

September 2011- Winner, World Championships (2:07:38)
April 2011- DNF, London Marathon
November 2011- Ninth, New York City Marathon (2:13:01)
April 2010- Fifth, Virgin London Marathon (2:08:04)
April 2009- Third, Rotterdam Marathon (2:05:04)
August 2009- Winner, World Championships (2:06:54/Championship record)
November 2008- DNF, New York Marathon
September 2008- DNF, Berlin Marathon
April 2008- Winner, Vienna Marathon (2:07:38)
September 2007- Second, Berlin Marathon (2:06:51)
April 2007- Third, Vienna Marathon (2:10:41)
September 2006 – Ninth, Berlin Marathon (2:17:47)
December 2006- Third, Singapore Marathon (2:15:22)

WILSON KIPSANG

Although he is yet to break to the World Marathon Majors circuit- the elite round of events considered to be the barometer which ultimate distance runners are measured- Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich has already proven himself among the best.

Barely a month after the world celebrated Patrick Makau Musyoki’s world record run in Berlin, Kipruto, the defending Frankfurt Marathon champion returned to his favourite haunt and almost toppled the 2:03:38 benchmark from record books.

His winning 2:03:42 fell only five seconds short but following to the monumental run, no one can longer ignore the Kenya Police runner after he bought space in the high table of the elites by becoming the second fastest runner of all time.

In only his second marathon – following a debut of 2:07:10 for third place in Paris in April 2010 – the confident Kipsang moved to another level by winning at Frankfurt in 2:04:57, a remarkable time that made him the third fastest marathoner of that year.

A native of Keiyo District, he began competitive running for Police and finished second in the 10km race at the 2006 Tegla Loroupe Peace Race.

He became a professional international athlete the next year where he took second at the Tilburg Ten Miles, recording a time of 46:27and he won a road race in Hem (his time of 27:51 was the fourth fastest in a 10 km race that year).

Kipsang started 2009 strongly, winning the Egmond Half Marathon in chilly conditions and another good performance followed when he took second at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon– his time of 58:59 made him only the fourth runner to have run below 59 minutes.

At his second World’s Best 10K he finished third, repeating his feat from the previous year and despite being the favourite for the 2009 Berlin Half Marathon, he ended third place in a fast race which was the first occasion in which all the top-four runners finished under an hour.

He competed in the World 10K Bangalore in May and finished fourth before donning the national colours for the first time at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham where he finished just outside the medals in 1:00:08.

Last year, he won his third race over the distance at the 2011 Lake Biwa Marathon, defeating Deriba Merga to win in a course record of 2:06:13 hours.

D.O.B: 15 March 1982

PERSONAL BEST:
2:03:42

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

October 2011- Winner, Frankfurt Marathon (2:03:42/course record)
April 2011- Winner, Lake Biwa Marathon (2:06:13/course record)
October 2010- Winner, Frankfurt Marathon (2:04:57)
April 2010- Third, Paris Marathon (2:07:10)
November 2009- Fourth, World Half Marathon (1:00:08)

– Additional information, Marathon Majors, Internet

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