Karoki dreams of Tokyo Marathon conquest to earn Worlds spot

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-06 09:54:29|Editor: ZX
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NAIROBI, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Olympian Bedan Karoki says his participation in the World Championships hinges on him winning the Tokyo Marathon on March 3 in Japan.

The 28-year-old will be running his sixth marathon since making his debut in 2017.

However, he firmly believes that a good performance in the Japanese capital will certainly earn him a slot in the competitive Kenyan team to the World Championships, which will be held in Doha, Qatar in October.

"I have a plan, which includes the world championships and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020," he said. That plan will start its actualization process in Tokyo Marathon.

"I have switched from track to marathon and my progress is dependent on me doing well in Tokyo and earning a slot in the Kenya team because it is important for me to compete at the World Championships and the Olympic Games," Karoki said on Tuesday from his training camp in Ngong, Nairobi.

With two silver medals from cross country and World Half Marathon, Karoki, who is the former London Marathon bronze medalist, is joining a ballooning list of elite Kenyan runners who are eyeing a break into the marathon and represent the country at the Olympics or the World Championships.

The east African nation has over 80 men who have run under two hours and ten minutes and another 40 women who have run at least two hours and 30 minutes.

The local unwritten rule for selection to the national team has been to win one of the big city marathons in Tokyo, Boston, Paris, Beijing, New York, Chicago, Berlin and London.

"The plan is to make it through the marathon and Tokyo is offering me that chance. But in the event that I fail, then the 10,000m race will be my target," said Karoki.

In his 2017 debut marathon, Karoki finished third in star-studded London course, clocking 2:07:41, his current personal best mark.

Six months later, he fell to fourth in Frankfurt timed at 2:08:44. Last year, Karoki competed in four marathons without securing a win. He finished fifth in London, ninth in Chicago and failed to finish the race in Fukuoka.

However, he has since recovered from the injury that made it hard for him to finish in Fukuoka and showed his pedigree when he was third at the Houston Half Marathon clocking 60.16 minutes.

He believes that was clear sign he is back to his best form. However, he will change his running style as he seeks to exploit on his opponents' weakness in Tokyo.

"I have always had a fast-paced first half of the marathon. However, I want to change my approach this time around to slow pace and then try to push harder in the second half. I have the experience in marathon and I hope for a breakthrough," he said.

Karoki said he will be at great advantage in Tokyo since it's like his second home, having lived in Japan for the last 12 years.

"I know the weather quite well but it will be my debut in Tokyo and hopefully, it will turn out just right," he added.