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Kirui won’t defend marathon crown in Moscow

KIRUI-DAEGUNAIROBI, Kenya, June 24- Kenya’s world marathon champion, Abel Kirui, will not defend his title in Moscow in August following an ankle injury suffered during training that saw him miss the London Marathon in April.

Confirming the development on Sunday, Athletics Kenya (AK) president, Isaiah Kiplagat added the withdrawal of Olympics bronze medal winner, Wilson Kipsang, from the global showpiece as he focuses on breaking the world record in Berlin in September had compelled them to bring forward the naming of the Kenyan marathon torch bearers in Russia.

“It is true, Abel will not defend his title and Kipsang has pulled out to focus on other things. We intended to name the marathon team after the Trials since they have been training but that is no longer necessary,” Kiplagat said.

“The Executive Committee is meeting on Monday and afterwards, we will release the marathon team for Moscow,” Kiplagat added.

Kirui, 31, become the first Kenyan to be crowned a double world marathon champion when he successfully defended the title he first won in Berlin 2009 in Daegu, South Korea two years ago.

Last year, he was beaten to the Olympics gold medal by Uganda’s surprise package, Stephen Kiprotich, and despite the fact AK shortlisted 10 for Moscow in the men’s marathon squad, Kirui was definitely a show-in to defend his crown due to his exemplary duty for his nation.

“It is very disappointing but that is sport. There is still the 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics to look forward to but I was so eager to become the first man to win three world titles,” the crestfallen Kirui said from his Iten training base, Kirui said.

“This ankle has refused to heal the way I planned and there is no need of going to war when you are not ready,” the affable runner added.

The withdraws of Kirui and Kipsang leaves Boston and New York marathons course record holder, Geoffrey Mutai and 2009 Worlds silver winner, Emmanuel Mutai as the rank favourites to spearhead Kenya’s assault in Moscow.

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On Saturday, Mutai who also struggled with injury at the London Marathon announced his return to top form by winning the Kenyan 10,000m title with a blistering 27:55.30 performance in punishing altitude in Nairobi.

“I’m looking forward to make the Kenyan team as a marathoner for the first time. It felt great to win a race that had such high pace and feel no reaction to the injury.

“If I’m not selected in the marathon team, I will return to the Trials to compete the 10,000m race since I want to be remembered for what I did for my country,” the World Marathon Major winner widely regarded as the best athlete on the planet over the distance proclaimed following his victory.

Mutai won bronze for his nation at the 2010 Africa Championships in 10,000m before finishing fifth at the Punta Umbria World Cross the following year competing in the 12km men senior race.

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