Kipsang eyes second title

Kipsang eyes second title

Kipsang eyes second title

Two years ago, when Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor won the TCS World 10K in Bangalore, he was just a prodigy in transit from the junior ranks to the big, hugely competitive world of distance running.

He carried the tag of world junior cross country champion then.

Come Sunday, the Kenyan will again line-up in the seventh edition of the hugely popular event with an altogether different profile -- one brimming with achievements aplenty.

The biggest of them, of course, is the title of world half-marathon champion. It was on March 29 this year that the 21-year-old notched that stunning success, defeating along the way five-time champion Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, the world record holder over the distance.

The crown of world champion sits lightly on his head. If at all, it has only made him a touch more humble. But the desire to excel shines bright in his eyes as he targets a second victory here.

“I remember my win here in 2012. It was a very enjoyable race and it’s great to be back,” says Kipsang. “The fans here are very supportive and welcoming. It makes us want to come back.

“After my win here, I have had success in several races back home in Kenya and also abroad. I have become a more confident runner. I am looking forward to a good race on Sunday,” he adds.

Confidence was the key for Kipsang in Copenhagen. He arrived in the Danish capital after a sixth-place finish in the Tokyo marathon just over four weeks before, making his victory even more special.

“I had prepared well for Tokyo. But it was very cold there (about 7 degrees celsius) and I couldn’t adjust to the weather. I then went back home and took rest for two weeks before doing some simple training for the World Half-Marathon. Since I had trained well for Tokyo, I knew I was in good shape,” he says, explaining the method that fetched him the top spot.

Kipsang ran a quick second half in Copenhagen and with that kind of a finish, he says he would be capable of going for Tadese’s course record of 27:51, weather permittting.

“We have a pacemaker here and if he runs a good pace for the first six kilometres, I think a course record is possible. I am very confident about my finish.”

Hailing from the famous Rift Valley that has produced a long list of champion distance runners, the Kenyan police constable has run a variety of races -- 5000 and 10000 on the track, apart from road races ranging from 10K to the full marathon. With a best of 2:06:12, he is a more than capable marathon runner and Kipsang knows his future might lie there. “Right now I would like to run all these races but in future, I may focus on the full marathon,” he reveals with a smile.

Back home, Kipsang trains with Olympic and world marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda. “It is inspiring to train with such a fine champion,” says Kipsang. “It gives me the hope that I too can be like him. It is a privilege to train with him.”

Perhaps, sometime in the future, another young athlete might come up and say the same thing about Kipsang. For, he is well on his way to earning more laurels and medals on the long, tough road.

Meanwhile, the organsiers announced that Daniel Salel and Beatrice Mutai, both from Kenya, will act as pacemakers for the men’s and women’s elite races.