NAIROBI, Kenya, March 22- Kenya’ s Wilson Kiprop has cleared space in his trophy cabinet to accommodate the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships gold as he bids to stop Eritrean giant, Zersenay Tadese, from collecting a record sixth title.
The 2014 edition will go down on March 29 in the Danish city of Copenhagen and the Kenyan winner of the men’ s race in 2010 is upbeat a repeat success is on the card against the five-time winner whom he stunned to the top medal in Nanning, China.
Speaking from his home to Justin Lagat in a post uploaded on RunBlogRun website, Kiprop is confident he is in his best shape after injuries curtailed his progression in the seasons following his triumph, including the ignominy of pulling out of the London 2012 Olympics 10,000m final.
“I have heard it is going to be flat and fast. The last two half marathons I recently ran were also on faster courses; the New Delhi and the RAK half marathons.
“So, I can say these races have prepared me well for a faster course. Unlike courses with hills where some athletes who are best suited for such terrains can take advantage of the hills to shake off the rest, faster courses are fairer and better as long as you have done enough speed and endurance training,” Kiprop said of the Danish course he hopes to mow the threat of Tadese.
“It may get a little boring though, as you will be running in one pattern and same body posture all the way, but I prefer them to hard courses,” he added.
“I don’t want to say much. All I can say for now is that, I am very determined to win the gold medal there,” the 2010 champion underscored.
Besides the individual honours, Kiprop is rallying his compatriots to grab the team honours for the seventh successive time to complete the double.
“We want it just to be like the 2010 outing where we won both the individual as well as the team gold medals,” he stated displaying the two medals he won in Nanning.
On the mission to topple Tadese, the Kenyan hopeful admits it will take something special to dethrone the Eritrea who has owned the event almost unchallenged since 2006.
“Sometimes much attention is given to other athletes and then a new one emerges during the race and wins it. I am confident with the training I have done. I feel that I have already done over 80 percent of my preparations and only little finalizing remains to be done in the next few days,” he explains.
Kiprop is simmering with belief that this time round, his prospects have improved as opposed to Nanning when his triumph was greeted with consternation when he lined up as the underdog.
Prior to China he had never run under one hour in the half marathon but since his landmark victory, he has achieved the milestone on five occasions.
His sub 60 roll of honour reads thus 59:15 (Berlin/Apr. 2012/second), 59:15 (Ostia/Mar. 2013/won), 59:39 (Lille/Sep. 2010/won), 59:45 (UAE/Feb. 2014/third) and 59:49 (Delhi/Dec. 2013/third).
In Nanning, Kiprop pulled clear from Tadese to cause an upset and snap his streak of four on the bounce coming into the race as the freshly minted African champion over 10,000m.
His team mates at the time and sub-60 runners Sammy Kitwara, Silas Kipruto and Moses Mosop filed home to secure the team title ahead of Eritrea.
Athletics Kenya (AK) selected 2011 World Cross junior gold medallist and runners up at Berlin Marathon, Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, Robert Kwemoi Chemosin, Simon Cheprot, Kenneth Kiprop Kipkemoia and Cyprian Kimurgor Kotut to partner Kiprop in the men’s squad.
Jemimah Jelagat Sumgong, the 2012 Boston Marathon runner-up will front the country’s women team alongside Mary Wacera, Sally Chepyego Kaptich, Lucy Kabuu and Gladys Cherono.