Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata who is the reigning London Marathon champion has insisted he is ready to defend his crown on Sunday (3) despite being troubled by a hamstring injury.
Last year in October, Kitata edged a sprint finish in the elite men’s race to topple the great Eliud Kipchoge, who had won the annual event in England’s capital on four occasions.
The Ethiopian could not follow up a maiden London Marathon title with success at the Olympics this summer and pulled out in hot and humid conditions in Sapporo.
“I have some slight problems but still I am preparing to win and looking forward to it,” the 25-year-old said via a translator during Wednesday’s press conference.
“I was prepared very well before the Olympics and just two weeks before I had a hamstring injury, that was a big pressure for me. Otherwise I have prepared well and I am feeling confident to run on Sunday.
“The hamstring and the pain is not really easy and when it is a very fast speed, there might be some problem but I am looking forward to doing what I did before.”
Another sprint finish this year would raise doubts over the Ethiopian’s ability to clinch the event for a second time but he reflected on the life-changing experience of triumphing over Kipchoge, who bounced back to defend his Olympic title in August.
“I was very happy with the win last year and it had great meaning because Eliud is a very famous runner and a very strong runner so winning meant a lot,” Kitata added.
Kitata will battle for the honors with Evans Chebet from Kenya who will be making his debut and Birhanu Legese from Ethiopia who is the fastest man in the field following his winning run of 2:02.48 at the 2019 Berlin Marathon.