NAIROBI, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Reigning champion Paul Lonyangata of Kenya has warned his rivals he is up to the task as he puts his title up for grabs in Paris Marathon on Sunday.
Last year, Lonyangata became famous when he and wife Purity Rionoripo won both the men's and women's title in the French capital, and though his wife will not be returning to defend her crown, he believes he is strong enough to fend off any potential threat to his throne.
"I will be stronger than last year. I fly out to Paris optimistic about winning and retaining my title," Lonyangata said in Nairobi on Thursday.
The athlete, like many others who will be lining up in Paris, hope to catch the glimpse of the coaches ahead of Next year's World Marathon championships in Doha, Qatar.
"I want to compete for Kenya one day. But the challenge for tickets is always tough and only the best get them. Hopefully winning in Paris will set me on the path to represent Kenya next year in World Championships," he added.
Lonyangata, who holds a fastest time of 2:06:10 will defend his title against a strong challenge from a galaxy of stars including Ethiopians Yemane Tsegay (2:04:48), Markos Geneti (2:04:54), Eliud Kiptanui (2:04:54), Limineh Getachew (2:06:49) and Yenew Alamirew (2:08:56).
Fellow Kenyans Mark Kiptoo (2:06:00), who holds a new Master's marathon record from his race in the Netherlands will be keen to claim the title in Paris.
There will also be Erick Ndiema (2:06:07), Mathew Kisorio (2:06:33), Micah Kogo (2:06:56) and Solomon Yego (2:07:12).