Stanley Biwott has been forced to pull out of the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 22 April with a left leg injury that has prevented him from training for two weeks.
Biwott, a former New York Marathon champion, was due to start as the fourth quickest man in the super-fast 2018 elite men’s field, and was likely to challenge the ‘big three’ of Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, Ethiopian track legend Kenenisa Bekele and Britain’s multi-world and Olympic champion, Mo Farah.
Biwott was runner-up behind fellow-Kenyan Kipchoge in London two years ago when he ran his quickest ever time of 2 hours 3 minutes and 51 seconds, making him the fourth fastest man in this year’s field and the eighth fastest of all-time.
He had also finished second in 2014 and was fourth in 2015, the year he went on to win the coveted New York Marathon title.
But the 32-year-old has been beset by injury problems for the last two years. He dropped out of the Rio Olympic marathon race, won in majestic fashion by Kipchoge, and the 2016 New York Marathon when he was defending his title. He also missed last year’s London race, won by another Kenyan, Daniel Wanjiru.
Biwott’s absence leaves Kipchoge and Wanjiru to do battle for Kenya, along with compatriots Abel Kirui, the two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist, Bedan Karoki, who was third last year, and Lawrence Cherono, who won last year’s Amsterdam Marathon.
After finishing third and second in the last two editions, Bekele will hope to finally wrest the title from Kenyan hands, backed up by fellow Ethiopians, Guye Adola, the runner-up behind Kipchoge in Berlin last September, and Tola Shura Kitata, who won the Frankfurt and Rome Marathons last year.
Farah will have his eyes on Steve Jones’ long-held British record of 2:07:13 and perhaps cracking the European record of 2:05:48, a time that could well put him on the London Marathon podium.