NAIROBI, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Kenya runner Dickson Chumba hopes to be third time lucky on return to the Tokyo marathon course for the seventh time on Sunday.
"I always train with a focus to win. I have run every Tokyo marathon since 2014 and finished among the top three podium positions. I feel it will be my turn again this time round," Chumba said here on Monday as he prepared to depart for Tokyo.
In all the six past shows in the Japanese capital, Chumba has never finished below the third position. Only twice did he go on to win the race in his debut in 2014 and four years later in 2018.
The organizers have restricted entry to this year's race to only elite runners owing to the risk of the coronavirus. But even that has not dampened Chumba's spirit.
"I believe that was done so that they may have a limited number of athletes, whom they can control. There will be no health risks because they have covered all the avenues and put in place the right medical interventions. I am ready for the Tokyo marathon," said Chumba.
Last year, Chumba lost his title to Ethiopian Birhanu Legese finishing third in 2:08:44 behind compatriot Bedan Karoki. He went on to claim the seventh spot at the Chicago marathon in 2:09:11.
"My training has been hard and progressive and I am now ready for the challenge of the Tokyo marathon course," Chumba said.
His winning mark in 2018 of 2:05:30 is the best he has had of late, though it is almost a minute late compared to his personal best of 2:04:32 from Chicago back in 2014.
Kenya's Wilson Kipsang holds the course record with 2:03:57, being the fastest time on the Asia soil.
Chumba will be challenged by two other athletes led by defending champion Birhanu Legese (2:02:48) and Karoki.