There are 47 track and field events in the Olympic Games, and I have saved writing this preview for last; I’m writing it on Thursday morning, August 2, with track and field events set to start in (forgive me) 15.5 hours. Why did I save this one for last? ‘Cause ya just never know when Kenya might change its mind again about its men’s marathon team!!! Well, now that Kenya has finally made up its mind about the team – I think – let’s get on with the race. Or are we all too exhausted from the selection process to actually run?
It’s important to note that the Olympic and London Marathon courses are different, but it’s also important to note who has run well in London. Kenya’s Emmanuel Mutai won the 2011 London Marathon, but slipped to 7th in 2012. It’s nice work if you can get it when 2:08:01 is an off day; he holds the course record at 2:04:40. Also of note is his silver medal in the ’09 Worlds. Wilson Kipsang won here in April with the second fastest time on this course, just four seconds from teammate Mutai’s records. Might you say that these two are evenly matched?! Kipsang has won four marathons in a row, an unlikely achievement for someone relatively new to the event. Two-time World champ Abel Kirui should be an obvious pick for a medal, but he has faded over the last several kilometers at London in each of the last three years. This year he was second at 40k and finished 6th. Ethiopia’s Ayele Abshero debuted with a 2:04:23 win in Dubai in January; he’s 21 and #4 all-time. Ethiopia’s policy of picking its Olympic distance team based solely on time has left some talented competitors at home.
- Wilson Kipsang, Kenya
- Emmanuel Mutai, Kenya
- Ayele Abshero, Ethiopia
*While watching this race, I’ll note the absence of initial Kenyan qualifier Moses Mosop, who had to withdraw due to injury. He was my pick to win; his two world records in the same race – 25k and 30k – on the track in Eugene in 2011 is one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen. No one who was there will ever forget his 63 second 45th lap. A good time to soften up the field – with only 30 laps to go!