Rio selection brings Biwott’s career to full circle
Being named in the Kenya team for the Rio Olympics announced by Athletics Kenya (AK) on Tuesday has brought the career of Stanley Kipleting Biwott to full circle.
The 30 year-old was widely expected to make the squad after a stellar calendar year which he finished fourth in London 2015 (2:06:51), won New York on November 1 (2:10:34) and on April 24, ran his 2:03:51 lifetime best to finish second in London.
Having clinched his first ever marathon victory when he won the 2010 Sao Paolo Marathon in 2:11:19, Biwott is hoping to return with the biggest medal in the sport when he puts his feet in the streets of Rio during the Olympics Marathon in August.
“I’m happy to be named in the team and that they have seen my performance and hard work of the last two years. I’m very happy to represent my country in the Olympics. The Marathon has been has been long process for me, but I make sure have done my best every year,” the elated Biwott told Citizen Digital on Wednesday.
“I’m see myself now among the top marathon runners. I’m happy about it.”
Fortunes changed for Biwott when he joined Italian coach, Claudio Berardelli’s group just over two years ago, with another second finish at the 2014 London Marathon (2:04:55) behind Wilson Kipsang (2:04:29) marking him out as a rising star in the World Marathon Majors.
His time equalled the world record set in 2003 by the legendary distance runner, Paul Tergat in Berlin with injury ending his rising progression as he was forced to end his season prematurely.
Always the dark horse, the celebrated trio of Kipchoge, Kipsang and world record holder, Dennis Kimetto beat him to the tape in London last year but he finally caught the bouquet in New York when he outlasted World Championship silver medallist, Geoffrey Kamworor for his first Majors win.
In April, he managed to stay close with Kipchoge in a super-fast London only to run out of steam over the final 2km as Kipchoge raced to the title in 2:03:05, the second-quickest performance of all time but he had done enough to punch his ticket to Rio.
AK named Biwott alongside his conqueror in the British capital and 2012 Boston Marathon champion, Wesley Korir as the automatic choices for Rio.
“I was not prepared to run that fast but I was in good shape because I had trained very well for London and I was actually in better shape than last year. Winning New York showed that I can do better if I prepare well and I think I can still lower my PB,” Biwott maintained.
As stellar names around them including Kimetto, Kipsang and Ethiopian distance running titan, Kenenisa Bekele fell off the pace at London, Biwott managed to run alongside Kipchoge who broke off at the 40km mark and increased the pace for the searing performance that was only eight second shy of the 2:02:58 world record.
“I had not realized that we were running that fast until we got to 30K. I realized we almost broke the London record when I crossed the finish line and saw that I had clocked 2:03.53. The record was the last thing in my mind,” Biwott who is in line for his Team Kenya debut recounted.
“Running and concentrating on the watch is not advisable,” he laughed when asked whether he was watching his time during the splits of London as he pounded the tarmac.
While running toe-to-toe with Kipchoge was not part of the plan on the streets of the British capital, Biwott is only too glad to share duties with his teammates to bring Kenya’s second men’s Olympics marathon gold home.
“We are going there as a team and we will work as a team. We will assist each other to bring the medals back to Kenya.
“Winning a medal would mean a lot to me, a big achievement for me and my family and those I train with, I will be very happy. It will be my journey to win gold in the Olympics,” he asserted.
Biwott has been watching previous Olympics, especially the 2:06:32 record performance by former Nike teammate, the late Samuel Kamau Wanjiru whom the class of 2016 will be hoping to emulate in Rio.
And he is prepared to switch his mind from circuit to championship running to realise his goal in training for Rio.
“It’s a tactical game, you must focus on the weather and there are no pace-makers. I ran New York without pace makers, so it’s a tactical game, London has pacemakers but the Olympics don’t,” he explained.
He hopes running many races in Brazil will give him the edge when it comes to competing at the same nation for the ultimate glory.
“I have been running in Brazil and I understand the weather there. I’m not new there and when they talk about the weather, I’m used to it.”
Should he claim his biggest victory in Brazil, he has only one man to dedicate it to.
“I watched Wanjiru’s race very well and he was in our Nike company and would like to bring the gold back to Kenya for him.”
For Citizen TV updates
Join @citizentvke Telegram channel
Video Of The Day: CAS Rachel Shebesh and athlete Asbel Kiprop share their mental health journeys