Kipchoge, Biwott head Kenyan Olympic marathon team for Rio
Kenya has named its Olympic marathon team for the 2016 Summer Games, Athletics Kenya announced on Tuesday morning.
The men's squad will consist of two-time Olympic medalist Eliud Kipchoge, New York City Marathon champion Stanley Biwott and 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir. The team has Paris Marathon champion Cyprian Kotut and Bernard Kipyego as reserves.
The women's team will consist of Tokyo Marathon champion Helah Kiprop, London Marathon champion Jemimah Sumgong and Paris Marathon champion Visiline Jepkesho. Mary Keitany, who finished fourth at the 2012 Olympics, is listed as an alternate along with Florence Kiplagat.
Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang took silver and bronze for the men in London. Priscah Jeptoo was the lone Kenyan woman to medal in 2012 as she settled for silver behind Ethiopia's Tiki Gelana. Gold remains the main objective for the running powerhouse.
The biggest omission to the men's team is world record holder Dennis Kimetto. The farmer-turned-marathoner ran 2:02:57 at the 2014 Berlin Marathon but has struggled to be competitive at major marathons since. 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang, who held the world record from September 2013 until Kimetto broke it, also removed his name from consideration as they will pursue fall marathons. Kimetto and Kipsang dropped out of last summer's world championships.
In 2012, Kenya drew fire for not having Geoffrey Mutai on the Olympic team after having won the 2011 Boston Marathon in 2:03:02, which was then-the world's fastest run over 26.2 miles. The Boston Marathon course is not eligible for world records.
Kipchoge may be the gold medal favorite in Rio de Janeiro as he has won six of his seven career marathons with his most recent victory being a 2:03:01 run at the London Marathon in April. Kipchoge already owns a bronze and silver medal from the 2004 and 2008 Olympics respectively. Biwott may also be in the medal conversation after lowering his personal best to 2:03:51 to finish second to Kipchoge.
Sumgong's 2:20:41 personal best is the fastest of the women's team. Last month, she won the London Marathon despite falling at the 21-mile marker and hitting her head on the concrete. This will be her first Olympic team.
The women's marathon will be run on Aug. 12. The men's marathon will be run on August 21 – the final day of competition in Rio.