World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat is set to make her debut in Marugame Half Marathon on February 4 in Japan. Kiplagat, a silver medallist in marathon at last year’s IAAF World Championships, highlights the women’s entry list which has attracted eleven elite athletes so far.
Kiplagat will lead another Kenyan Betsy Saina in hunting for medals against a star-studded field. The two will face competition from United States of America’s Sara Hall and Australia’s Jessica Trengoveare who are poised to trouble the Kenyan pair
In the men’s category, World record-holder Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea heads the men’s entries. Tadese who doubles up as five-time World Half Marathon champion set the world record of 58:23 back in 2010 and will be competing in Marugame for the first time in his long and distinguished career.
He will face off with Kenyan trio of Bernard Kimani, Dominic Kiptarus and Wilson Kiprono Too, as well as Uganda’s Moses Kibet. Kiptarus finished fourth at the World Cross Country Championships junior race in Guiyang, China.
The home fans will be hoping that national record-holder Yuta Shitara or his compatriots Kenta Murayama and Keijiro Mogi, will become the first Japanese athletes in 12 years to win the men’s race in Marugame. Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi, a three-time winner in Marugame, is also in the field, along with compatriots Michi Numata and Mai Ito.
Meanwhile, Global athletics is hoping to link the 2021 world championships in Oregon to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics in a bid to maximize interest in the sport in the United States, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) chief executive said on Wednesday.
The United States track and field team ranks as the best in the world but American spectator interest is relatively low. “We are starting to think about the wrap up in the U.S. to LA 2028,” Olivier Gers said in a telephone interview from Eugene, Oregon where he is on a site visit for the 2021 championships, the first to be held in the United States.
“How do we work with the organising committee of the LA Olympics to maximize the awareness of the sport at the local level?,” Gers said. “We need to use Eugene and LA to bring the sport to a top four positioning on a global basis.”
He said one of the challenges of the IAAF, especially in America “is to make the sport more accessible for the casual fans, the ones who get passionate around the Olympics and then forget it”. Gers said he had found plenty of passionate fans in Oregon as the IAAF delegation works with local organisers to accommodate an event of this magnitude.
“The challenge is the size. It’s a monster,” he said of what will be the largest sporting event in the world in 2021 with 2,000 athletes and 200 countries with federations and their delegations and thousands of spectators. Although Eugene ranks as the track capital of the United States, its population of 157,000 is relatively small on a global scale as are its airport and available accommodation.
That’s why employing Oregon’s largest city of Portland, which is two hours away, and the entire state in hosting the championships will be key, Gers said of the event which has been rebranded Oregon 2021 and is expected to be a major economic boost for the region.
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