By the end of next month, Athletics Kenya will name a provisional Olympic marathon team.
Athletics Kenya youth and development coordinator Barbara Korir said the organization hopes to release the names of the six athletes to give them the best possible preparation for the event.
Korir, speaking to Pulse Sports, said, “In consultation with the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, we are doing things differently this time round. We will announce the team early enough and ensure we win gold in both the men’s and women’s races.”
Korir unveiled the process that will be used to select the team.
Selection to the team will be based on World Athletics rankings and performances at marathons from this year.
“We will look at the performance of marathoners this year and select a formidable squad. In the past, we have selected in the year of the Olympics or World Championship, and we have occasionally missed out on the best athletes to represent the country,” said Korir to Pulse Sports.
Let’s look at some of the athletes vying for a spot on Team Kenya for the Olympic marathon.
No conversation about the Olympic marathon would be complete without mentioning current world record holder Kelvin Kiptum.
Kiptum set a new world record in the marathon earlier this year at the Chicago Marathon when he ran 2:00:35. He took down Eliud Kipchoge’s previous world record of 2:01:09 by 34 seconds in only his third marathon ever.
In April, Kiptum also won the London Marathon, running, at the time, the second-fastest marathon ever and setting a new course record, running 2:01:25. He was just 16 seconds off the world record in his second-ever marathon.
Kiptum already has his sights set on the Olympic marathon and has planned his 2024 season with that goal in mind. He will be racing the Rotterdam Marathon 16 weeks out from the Olympics.
“It has always been my dream to represent Kenya, and I will be ready to do that at the Paris Olympics,” Kiptum said to Olympics reporters.
As of right now, as long as Kiptum remains healthy, there is no reason he wouldn’t be included in the Olympic squad.
It would be hard to leave out the previous world record holder, Eliud Kipchoge, from the Kenyan Olympic marathon team.
Kipchoge will be hoping to repeat his victory from the previous Olympics in Tokyo, where he won with a time of 2:08:38.
Kipchoge did not have his dream start at the Boston Marathon in April this year, placing sixth after running 2:09:23.
Kipchoge targeted Berlin as a stepping stone towards preparations for the Olympic Games.
“In view of the Olympic Games next year in Paris, I thought about which race could be the best preparation for the Games for me and Berlin is the best option,” he said to Inside the Games.
As the second fastest marathoner of all time and the experience he would bring to the squad, it would be hard to imagine the Kenyan Olympic marathon team without him.
This year, Hellen Obiri has won all but one race she’s been in.
In just her second career marathon, Obiri won her spring race at the Boston Marathon, 12 seconds ahead of second place, in a time of 2:21:38.
Obiri has not only been dominant across the marathon but also the half marathon, where she won both the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in February, running 1:05:05, and the New York City Half Marathon in March, running 1:07:21.
Obiri says that a gold medal from the Olympic Games is the only thing she is missing.
“If I get a chance (to be in the Kenyan team), I will work hard to go and get the gold medal because it’s the only one I’m missing,” Obiri said to Pulse Sports.
With Obiri’s consistency and dominance this year across all disciplines, especially the marathon, it would be quite a surprise not to see her named to the Kenyan Olympic team.
Alongside having consistency all year, Ruth Chepngetich has recorded the third-fastest women’s marathon time of the year.
Running 2:15:37 to place second at the Chicago Marathon has here only behind world record holder Tigst Assefa, who has run a 2:11:53, and Sifan Hassan, Chicago Marathon winner, who ran 2:13:44.
Chepngetich’s 2:15:37 is not her only impressive result this year. In March, Chepngetich won the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in Japan in a blazing 2:18:08.
She also ran her best half marathon of the year in 1:06:18 this past August in Buenos Aires.
Chepngetich would bring consistency to the Kenyan Olympic Marathon team. Her impressive 2023 results and ranking gives her a nice advantage when considering who will be named to Team Kenya.
One of the biggest challenges when selecting the Kenyan Olympic marathon team is the amount of depth in quality. Kenya is renowned for producing countless medal-contending marathon runner and has been dominant in endurance running for years.
Who do you think Kenya will send to the 2024 Paris Olympic Marathon? Will Team Kenya bring home Olympic gold?