Champions Geoffrey Kirui, Almaz Ayana ready to tackle Delhi Half Marathon

Both Ethiopian Olympics and world 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana and men’s world marathon champion, Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui, skipped questions on pollution ahead of the Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM).

other sports Updated: Nov 16, 2017 21:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi Half Marathon,ADHM,Airtel Delhi Half Marathon
Elite International athletes, including defending Champion Worknesh Degefa, Helah Kiprop, world champion Geoffrey Kirui, 10,000 m world record holder Almaz Ayana, Alex Korio (Oloitiptip) and Yigrem Demelash during an event ahead of the Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) in New Delhi on Thursday.(HT Photo)

With elite foreign athletes mainly from East African nations looking to race hard and fast in Sunday’s Delhi Half Marathon, it was a great sense of relief for the organisers, who have been concerned whether the race would go ahead due to the severe air pollution.

Among those who plan to showcase their talent is Ethiopian Olympics and world 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana. She is set to make her debut in the 21km race. Both Ayana and men’s world marathon champion, Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui, skipped questions on the pollution.

“I am ready for a good result. After the World Championships in August, I have been training hard for the half marathon. The main target will be to give my best,” Ayana said with manager Getaneh Tessema acting as interpreter.

Ayana though will face stiff competition from compatriot and defending champion Worknesh Degefa and it will be interesting to watch the duel on race day. She said: “My training has been on expected lines. So, I am prepared to race hard.”

However, after Sunday’s race, Ayana will take a decision on whether she wants to continue road racing or shift her focus back to track running.

Ayana is a 5000m- 10,000m specialist. She crushed the competition with front-running at Rio as well as London. In Brazil, she had broken the world record by several seconds, winning in 29 minutes 17.45 seconds.

Besides the two Ethiopians, Kenya’s Helah Kiprop will also be someone to follow on Sunday. Last year, she finished third, and is ready to climb the ladder.

In the men’s section too, the race for the title will be between the Kenyans and Ethiopians with Kenya’s world marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui the main attraction.

“It will be challenging task as the field in good. Since my training has been good, I hope for a podium finish,” said Kirui.

First Published: Nov 16, 2017 21:33 IST