Kenyan Geoffrey Kirui says he is not under pressure to reclaim his title at the IAAF World Championships
Kirui has not won a marathon since he triumphed in London back in 2017. His last big city marathon was in Boston the same year, which earned him a slot in the Kenya team. But his barren spell is not disturbing him as he focuses on his title defense in Doha.
Owing to the high temperatures in Qatar, the marathon will be run at midnight, with temperatures still expected to be over 30 degrees Celsius. But Kirui is open to the challenge and says he will take it in his stride.
"I have been there before, and I know the weather is very hot so am preparing well for any condition. I will be in my best form, barring any injury in training. My focus is on the race 100 percent. It will be a little bit harder for my opponents to beat me because I have more experience now," said a bullish Kirui on Saturday in Nairobi.
Kenya's team of nine marathon runners will move to Eldoret for training, though Athletics Kenya is yet to name its overall coach.
"As the defending champion I know everyone will be aiming to beat me, but this time round I am even better prepared," added Kirui.
The reigning champion believes his main challengers will not come from Ethiopia, Uganda or the United States, who have piled more pressure on Kenyan athletes in road races. Instead, Kirui says his main challenge will come from within, as he lines up alongside compatriots Laban Korir, Paul Lonyangata, Ernest Ngeno and Berlin Marathon runner-up Amos Kipruto.
"The team is perfect and everyone has a good time, but this is the World Championship and we need to be aware of competition from others who are also doing well out there. But the Kenya team is strong and anyone can surprise you on his day," he added.
posted Sunday July 28th