World champion Kirui sets eyes on Delhi Half Marathon title
On top of the world after enjoying a near perfect run this year, Kenyan star Geoffrey Kirui exuded the supreme confidence of a world champion as he geared up to take on a strong field at the 2017 edition of the Delhi Half Marathon.
The 24-year-old has been in superb form this year. He won the World Championship in London in August this year with a time of 2 hours eight minutes and 27 seconds.
Earlier in April, he also emerged champion at the 2017 edition of the prestigious Boston Marathon. He won the title with a time of 2:09:37, edging out American Galen Rupp by 21 seconds following an exciting sprint in the closing stages of the race.
"There is no athlete here who can beat me when I am in form. I have prepared very well to come here and run. Everything depends on the weather on Sunday. If the weather is good, I will run a fast time," Kirui told IANS ahead of the race.
However, he will have his task cut out on Sunday as the field includes compatriot Alex Korio and Yigrem Demelash of Ethiopia who finished second at the Delhi Half Marathon last year.
The Delhi Half Marathon has been in the eye of a storm in recent days with the high levels of pollution prompting speculation that the event may be postponed. But Kirui is not concerned over the issue.
The Kenyan, who will be making his second appearance at this event, loves to compete in India as he feels that the country offers some of the toughest conditions in the world and running here will help him to improve as an athlete.
"I like to compete in Delhi the most. I have run here before and have decided to come back here again. I like the city, it is a nice country. I like the conditions here.
"The climate is hot. The field is strong, the race will be good. But it is very hot. That makes it difficult to produce world class timings. The conditions here are tougher than most major marathon and half-marathons around the world. Running here is a challenge. But it helps you to improve," Kirui said.
"The pollution is a problem for people who live here. But for us athletes, because we are coming here for a short while and then go back to our countries, I think it will not be a problem for us. The overall timings will not be affected by the pollution," he added.
Having risen to stardom from a humble background, Kirui now tries to help out athletes from poor families in his native country.
"Most of my fellow athletes back home in Kenya are very happy since I won the World Championships and the Boston Marathon," he said.
"I help my fellow athletes in any way I can. There are many athletes from poor backgrounds back home. I try to help them by giving them training kits. I have to do something for athletes back home. It is a big responsibility for me."