World marathon champion signs up for Great South Run

Kenya's Abel Kirui
Kenya's Abel Kirui
The start of the Gosport Half Marathon race as James Baker, wearing 85, hits the front early on. Picture: Neil Marshall

Baker’s perfect timing with Gosport triumph

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Two-time world marathon champion Abel Kirui, already one of the favourites to win gold medal at next year’s London Olympic Games, will compete in the Bupa Great South Run on October 30.

The brilliant Kenyan, who won a second successive world title at the recent championships in Daegu, will reduce his distance when competing over the fast 10 mile course.

His opposition is set to include Great Britain’s European 10,000m silver medalist Chris Thompson.

Kirui comes from Kenya’s Rift Valley region, which has produced many of the world’s greatest road runners..

He will bid to become the fifth Kenyan winner of the Great South Run in the last six years.

World 5,000m gold medalist Mo Farah broke the African nation’s sequence of victories two years ago but the European Champion is now resting after his excellent year, and Thompson will lead the domestic challenge.

‘Kirui and Thompson are the first two big signings for this year’s race, and I’m sure they will make a big impact at the end of the month,’ said Peter Riley, elite athletes manager of the Bupa Great South Run.

‘But it won’t be a two-man race, we hope other star names will be taking part.

‘Abel’s on a real high at the moment.

‘The Kenyan selectors, along with the other World Championship title winners, pre-selected him last week for the London Olympics, taking a great weight from his shoulders, given that he will not have to undertake another qualifying race.

‘He’s also celebrating his promotion in the Kenyan Administration Police Force.

‘After his victory in Daegu his employees elevated him from sergeant to chief inspector, which is a unique reward for his victory.’

Kirui plans to concentrate his attention on races such as the Bupa Great South Run in his 10-month build up to the biggest test of his career.

‘This will give me ample time to train and focus well,’ he said of Athletics Kenya’s confidence in his ability to chase hard for a medal in London.

‘What else will I want in the world but an Olympic gold around my neck?”

The Bupa Great South Run is the highlight of a weekend of running on the south coast, which also features a 5k race with junior and mini events on the preceding day.