NAIROBI, Kenya, July 22 – Defending champion John Ekiru Kelai, is fired up to make history as the first Kenyan repeat winner of the ultimate distance race at Commonwealth when he pounds the tarmac of Glasgow on Sunday.
Since winning the top medal four years ago in Delhi India, Kelai who has also raced to the honours at Brussels, Toronto, Mumbai (twice), Enschede (twice) and his latest, Zhengzhou marathons, is hoping his first outing in Kenyan colours since Delhi writes yet another glowing chapter in the country’s glory-laden distance running folklore.
“In every sport there are challenges especially in our field since we are prone to injuries which really stole my limelight after the Commonwealth Games. It took time to work with my doctors that’s why I was not seen at the stage of running,” the 37 year-old who was troubled by hamstring injury for two seasons said.
Having run at the course during the 2012 Glasgow Half Marathon and competing in UK and China road races to prepare for the assignment, Kelai told Capital Sport he is looking forward to lead a historic Kenyan podium sweep over the classic distance.
“After the injury all went well and I went one of the races in UK where I ran with Haile Gebreselassie and finished third and after that I raced in southern China where I won so that confirmed my form is back.
“The course is not tough because I’m familiar with it but it will depend on the pace of the day. We have a good team and my two colleagues have fast times just like me so we hope we are going to sweep the podium,” he added.
Kelai is also keen on bettering his Personal Best of 2:09:09 from the 2005 Eindhoven Marathon although his , however maintains defending his title will not be easy, since there are upcoming athletes whom he considers as great challengers.
“After four years there is new breed that is cropping up and this time round I know it’s not going to be easy to defend my title and that’s why I have to prepare psychologically and mentally.
“We have new athletes coming up from Uganda also and that put me in a situation where I must work hard to ensure I retain my title but it will depend on the weather in that material day. I’m looking forward to run a fast time and if possible my Personal Best,” the soft spoken runner explained.
Kelai, who is the second Kenyan male to win the Commonwealth title following the 1990 success of retired legend Douglas Wakiihuri, made it clear he will still go for it in 2018 if selected to the team for an unprecedented hat-trick.
“The more I do better the more I’m be inspired for another win; so if all goes well in Glasgow, I might go for another one,” he concluded.