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Brigid Kosgei (KEN) runs along The mall during the Elite Women's Race




Kosgei targets third title after Olympic disappointment

I love London and the spectators here because they cheer everyone on the day. I hope I have the power to do my maximum.

Brigid Kosgei

Losing the loops

“I didn’t like the loops last year,” she said. “We went round and round and round, and my head was turning and turning by the end.

“This time it won’t be a loop, we are going straight and I really appreciate that.

“I love London and the spectators here because they cheer everyone on the day. I hope I have the power to do my maximum.”

Kosgei’s ‘maximum’ is considerably faster than anyone else’s, of course, her world record of 2:14:04 being more than three-and-a-half minutes quicker than the best of her opponents in Sunday’s race.

Record out of reach?

But Kosgei knows she’s unlikely to reach those speeds in London and admits the 2:17:01 course best and women-only world record of recently retired three-time champion Mary Keitany may also be out of reach this year.

“I won’t have the course record in mind, as I recently came from running the Olympics only last month, so my preparation is not good enough to do it,” she said.

“Mary Keitany is a good lady and she’s has been encouraging us to work hard so we can break her women-only world record.

“We are here to try our best to do that if we can make it. Or maybe next time. It depends how it will be.

“There are a lot of strong competitors in the race and everybody wants to be in the top three.”

Talent-packed field

Winning the coveted title again would be achievement enough against a talent-packed field that includes no fewer than eight other women who have broken 2:20, headed by Israel’s 2020 Tokyo Marathon champion Lonah Salpeter, who’s making her London debut, and Roza Dereje, the 2019 Valencia Marathon champion who will be hoping to improve on third here two years ago.

Dereje is one of eight powerful Ethiopians in the line-up, while Kosgei will be joined by fellow Kenyans Joyciline Jepkosgei and Valary Jemeli.

Jepkosgei is the reigning New York City Marathon champion and approaches her London debut in confident mood after winning the prestigious Berlin half marathon just six weeks ago in 65 minutes 16 seconds.

Best in Berlin

“The Berlin half marathon was the best for me, and my training has gone well over the last few weeks, so I am ready to run sub-2:20,” said the former world half marathon record holder.

I have already won in New York, but this is my first London Marathon. It was a pleasure to be invited to London. It will be a test for me but I’m glad to be here and am here to do my best.

Joyciline Jepkosgei

After five straight victories for Kenya’s women, and nine in the last 10 editions of the race, there will be extra motivation for the Ethiopian cohort. Tigist Tufa was the last Ethiopian women’s winner back in 2015, when she forced the much-favoured Keitany to play second fiddle.

Ethiopian hope

With three Tokyo Marathon titles to her name, plus five other podium places in Abbott World Marathon Majors races, Birhane Dibaba will be one of those looking to emulate Tufa’s victory.

After placing ninth in 2019, she too feels ready to take on the two-time champion.

“I am well prepared and feel in similar shape to all my previous races,” said the consistent 28-year-old who has a best of 2:18:35.

“Like all the athletes, I came here to win the race. It is very tough, of course, but I want to beat them and do my best.”