NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16- Abel Kirui has now set his sights on clinching a third world title at the next year’s IAAF World Championships in London after winning his first ever major marathon crown last weekend in Chicago.
The 34-year old, who won the world championship races in 2009 and 2011, had battled with injury since winning silver at the London Olympics in 2012 before clinching the Chicago Marathon.
“I want to win a third world title. I feel that my confidence has been really boosted after winning Chicago because it was the first time I was winning a major race. I have tried before and failed and now I feel back to the top again,” the humble and soft spoken Kirui told Capital Sport.
Kirui was one of the front runners in the 2013 World Championships after reigning in the previous two, but he picked up an injury shortly after the London Olympics.
He now hopes 2017 will provide more memorable moments as he also eyes a shot at the London Marathon in April where he fancies competing with holder and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, former world record holder Wilson Kipsang and Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele who is slowly commanding his place in road running after transiting from the track.
“This will be one of the greatest races witnessed. I would really want to be part of it and challenge the likes of Kipchoge, Kipsang and Bekele. I know I can and I am training very hard for that. I would want to compete with the best to gauge myself before the World Championships,” Kirui added.
The marathoner had changed his training from Nandi to Eldoret prior to the race in Chicago due to harsh temperatures but he says he will be alternating between the two since Nandi offers him a better environment in terms of altitude.
Winning a third marathon world title will definitely put him high on the world map.
His first big breakthrough came when he finished second to Haile Gebrselassie at the 2007 Berlin Marathon in 2:06:51, taking almost four minutes off his personal best.
Seven months later, Kirui smashed the course record when winning the Vienna Marathon in 2:07:38.
His landmark season, though, came in 2009, setting a lifetime best of 2:05:04 when finishing third in Rotterdam. He then went on to win the world title in Berlin, setting a championship record of 2:06:54.
Despite slipping down to 33rd on the world all-time list, the 34-year old is relentless that he can take himself back to the top.
“It was a difficult time for me with all those challenges and getting back to your top form is always not easy. I have worked hard to get to where I am and I will work even harder because I feel that my body is really responding well in training,” he opined.