Kenya's Gilbert Kipruto Kirwa returns to Italy hopeful to clinch gold at Florence Marathon on Sunday

The 25-year-old has not raced since he clinched the bronze medal in Florence last year after he sustained an ankle injury. However, he returns feeling strong as he intends to recoup the missed opportunities hoping he will prove his mantle and secure a slot in the Kenya team to the World Championships next year in Qatar. "I have recovered and ready for the assault of the Florence course," Kirwa said on Thursday before departing to Italy. "It is about preparations and I have done my part and though there are some top names lined up, I believe the training has been good to withstand any challenge." Kirwa was the third-place finisher in the men's race last year. The Kenyan clocked his personal best of 2:06:14 in Frankfurt back in 2009 but ran 2:07:44 as recently as 2015 in finishing fifth at the Paris marathon. Later he was second at the Toronto Waterfall marathon in Canada clocking 2:09:01. But that will come under focus when he lines up at the Florence marathon course on Sunday. Kirwa will be up against China's Xiamen marathon champion Dejene Debela and Bonsa Dida from Ethiopia. After setting a personal best time of 2:07:10 in Eindhoven in 2017, Debela has won two marathons in China this year, clocking 2:11:22 in Xiamen and 2:12:08 in Beijing. "I hope to run well in Florence and see if I can defend my title in Xiamen next year. I believe I will have recovered, but it will be dependent on the performance in Italy," he said.

posted Saturday November 24th