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London Marathon winner Munyao in Kenya team for Paris Olympics

Alexander Mutiso Munyao, the surprise winner of this year’s London Marathon, was rewarded for his victory on Wednesday by being named in the Kenyan marathon team for this year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

The 27-year-old was a relative unknown in marathon circles — in spite of running 2hrs 03mins 11secs in Valencia in 2023 — but he grabbed the headlines last month when he claimed his first major win in London in a time of 2:04:01, getting the better of Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele.

After breaking the tape in London, Munyao admitted he was not sure if he had done enough to merit selection but he was named alongside double Olympic gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge and the 2024 Tokyo marathon champion Benson Kipruto. 

Kipchoge, 39, will be eyeing a historic Olympic marathon hat-trick after struggling in March to a 10th-place finish in Tokyo behind Kipruto.

“My plan now is to prepare and plan well for the race by putting all my heart, my mind and thoughts on the Olympics,” Kipchoge told reporters on Wednesday after the team selection. 

“When we step onto the streets of Paris, it won’t be as individuals but as a formidable team united by our shared pursuit of greatness.”

Kenya’s world record holder Kelvin Kiptum, who would have been a certainty for Paris, was killed in a car accident in February.

On the women’s side, defending Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir, who also won in London in April, will lead Chicago and Boston marathon champion Helen Obiri and former world record holder Brigid Kosgei in the road race.

Jepchirchir won the London marathon last month in a women’s-only world record of 2:16:16. 

The 30-year-old Kenyan came home in front of world record holder Tigst Assefa and Joyciline Jepkosgei to break the record mark without male pacemakers.

The Kenya marathon team was slimmed down from a stacked squad of 11 runners named in April. 

Timothy Kiptanui, who finished second in the Tokyo marathon and 2022 New York marathon champion Sharon Lokedi have been retained in the team as reserves.

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