NAIROBI, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- World marathon gold medallist and Boston Marathon champion, Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya is currently riding high as one of the planet' s leading endurance stars.
After a stellar 2017 season, Kirui appears to be on the cusp of becoming the next great marathoner to follow in the footsteps of the great Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge.
Yet for the modest athlete who prefers to act on feel, there is little chance of complacency or arrogance creeping into his demeanor.
He will skip the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia (April 4-15) to focus on building on his endurance and speed ahead of Boston marathon defence also in April.
"I ran 2:06 in Amsterdam last year and now I am focused on running 2:04/2:05 in 2018. I will keep focusing on achieving my goals, and I will put more effort than I did last year into training," said Kirui on Monday.
Kirui is among the elite athletes lining up for the Boston marathon in April. He will face three Ethiopians led by two-time Boston champion and 2013 World Championships Marathon silver medalist Lelisa Desisa, 2016 Boston winner Lemi Berhanu and Tamirat Tola, the man he beat at the 2017 World Championships in London.
Kirui made his international debut at the 2011 African U20 Championships in Botswana, where he struck 10,000m gold -- interestingly three places ahead of reigning world 5000m champion Muktar Edris of Ethiopia.
Then later that year at the Diamond League fixture in Brussels, Kirui marked himself out as a very special talent by running a staggering 26:55.73 to advance to second on the all-time Under-20 10,000m lists behind his countryman, the late, great 2008 Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru.
His performances in 2011 came as a huge surprise and the next year he landed World U20 10,000m bronze on his global championship debut.
In 2013 the good performances kept on coming when the then 20-year-old athlete finished 15th at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in the Bydgoszcz snow.
"I had never run in such cold conditions and kept slipping on the ice," he recalls.
Injuries and stiff competition took the wind out of Kirui's sails but when he emerged winner at the Boston marathon last year, there was a feeling of a conqueror in the air.
He had regained his invincibility. In August last year, Kirui reclaimed the gold medal in London at the World Championships (having been taken by Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich).
"It is a great feeling to be world champion," he said. "I am very happy. It is not easy. People were saying I was going to win gold and, fortunately, I did."
Now as he plans to battle in defence of his title in April, Kirui can only look back and smile at the hard journey he made to excel in a competition many have faulted.