Amsterdam – All eyes will be on Olympic champion Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia, who wants to prove she is on her way back to the top when she takes part in the TCS Amsterdam Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race here on Sunday.
Since winning gold in London three years ago, the 27-year-old Ethiopian hasn’t had much luck. In 2013 she collided with a wheelchair athlete at the London Marathon and finished a distant 16th. She failed to finish at the World Championships later that year, withdrawing after 10km.
But there have been glimmers of hope. In 2014 she ran a respectable 2:26:58 to finish ninth at the London Marathon. And in February this year she finished third in Tokyo in 2:24:26, her fastest time since winning the Olympic title.
Aside from her Olympic win, Gelana’s two other marathon victories have been on Dutch soil, the first of which came in Amsterdam when she set a then course record of 2:22:08 in 2011. Six months later, she set a national record of 2:18:58 when winning in Rotterdam.
“It has been a difficult time, but my preparations for Amsterdam have been better than they were for Tokyo,” she said at the press conference this week.
“I hope to win here in a time that will qualify me for the Olympic Games in Rio next year where I want to defend my title.”
Her main contenders will be Kenya’s Flomena Cheyech and Joyce Chepkirui.
Commonwealth champion Cheyech finished fifth behind Gelana earlier this year in Tokyo in 2:26:54, more than four minutes outside the PB of 2:22:44 she set when finishing second in Paris last year.
Chepkirui looks to be the underdog. Last year she won African and Commonwealth titles over 10,000m on the track before ending her season with a victory at the Honolulu Marathon.
Although she finished 10th at this year’s Boston Marathon in 2:29:07, she was the only top-10 finisher to set a PB, finishing within a couple of minutes of athletes who have much faster lifetime bests. A recent 10-mile victory of 51:30 at the Dam tot Damloop showed she is in good form.
About 16,500 runners from 104 countries will start the marathon in Amsterdam’s Olympic stadium on Sunday with a further 18,500 running the half marathon.
Read more at: IAAF.org