Kenyan marathon world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge was confident on Friday he could overcome his recent form dip and challenge for his fifth Berlin Marathon crown.
Kipchoge set a world record time of 2hr 01min 09sec in the German capital in 2022, beating his own previous mark by 30 seconds.
But the two-time Olympic gold medallist’s sixth place at the Boston Marathon in April, where he fell back after leading over most of the course, had some questioning whether the 38-year-old’s best days are behind him.
Speaking to the media in the German capital ahead of Sunday’s race, Kipchoge said previous setbacks had taught him not to give up.
Kipchoge said he “learned a lot” from his 2022 win, “but you know last year is last year. It was 2022 and 2023 is a different game altogether”.
“You’re approaching it in a different way but you know when you are inside the race anything might happen.
“We follow what’s in our hands actually inside the race.”
Asked if he was feeling any pre-race nerves, the Kenyan said: “Absolutely I’m nervous. Your nervousness shows you are ready for the task.”
Kipchoge’s biggest rival is likely to be fellow Kenyan Amos Kipruto, who won the 2022 London Marathon.
Sitting alongside Kipchoge, Kipruto said he was competing with himself rather than his countryman.
“I will be competing for my personal best. The biggest target is to compete with my time,” Kipruto said. “If I go beyond that, I will be happy.”
In the women’s event, 2022 Berlin winner Tigist Assefa, 26, is the favourite.
Despite coming within 90 seconds of the world mark last year, the Ethiopian said: “I’m not thinking about the world record. I want to improve.”
After arriving in the German capital on Wednesday, Kipchoge wrote on Instagram “it’s good to be back in Berlin, it always feels like coming home.”
“Only a few more days until the Berlin Marathon – I can’t wait.”
Asked on Friday for his favourite places along the marathon track, Kipchoge joked: “I remember (the point) where it was 400 metres to go – that’s what is in my mind.”
Kipchoge has won 15 marathons, including four in both Berlin and London.
He won Berlin in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022 – the latter two in world record times.
A win on Sunday and he would move past Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie into outright first on the list of Berlin Marathon victories.
In 2022, Kipchoge ran the first half in less than an hour, which gave rise to hopes he may best the hallowed two-hour mark.
In the second half of the race he slowed slightly, but still finished with a world record time.
Twice he has run times better than his current world record, including once under two hours, becoming the only man to do so, but both did not court as they were not in an open competition, as per World Athletics rules.
Kipchoge has said he wants to use Berlin to prepare for the 2024 Paris Olympics and his bid for an unprecedented third Olympic gold medal in the marathon.
Some 45,000 runners are set to take part in Sunday’s race, where conditions regularly produce fast times.
Berlin is a flat course with fewer corners than other major city marathons, with the city’s asphalt streets easier on the joints than concrete.
Weather conditions are also conducive to faster times, with little wind in September, with temperatures between 10C to 16C.
British Gymnastics bans weighing young athletes
British Gymnastics has introduced new safeguarding rules that will prevent coaches from weighing athletes to stamp out methods it said are “on the fringe of abuse”.
The rules are part of a series of policies that the governing body is introducing following the 2022 Whyte Review, which found there was “systemic” physical and emotional abuse within the sport.
British Gymnastics has said it intends to go beyond the recommendations of that report to stamp out “harmful practices”.
Under the new rules, no gymnasts aged 10 or under can be weighed. Those above that age can only be weighed with the consent of both the gymnast and if they are under the age of 18, a parent or guardian.
If athletes are weighed, it must be done by a sports science or medical practitioner, with a “scientifically valid rationale” for it, including measuring growth or designing strength and conditioning exercises.
British Gymnastics said the policy had been introduced “to prevent inappropriate practices and prevent potential areas of concern around weighing, due to some of the related psychological distress and risks of the development of mental health problems such as eating disorders/disordered eating, anxiety, and depression”.
“Inappropriate or excessive weighing of gymnasts is an example of poor practice which may be on the fringe of abuse, and if/or repeated could amount to abuse,” it added.
The Whyte Review focused on 2008 to 2020 and received more than 400 submissions of those, more than 40 percent described physically abusive behavior towards gymnasts from coaches.
In a statement, British Gymnastics chief executive Sarah Powell said: “Above all else, we care about gymnasts as people, and these new policies make clear that what matters most in gymnastics is the welfare of those involved.
“While practices have moved on a long way, we know there has been poor practice in these areas and so by providing clarity for gymnasts, parents and carers, coaches, clubs, volunteers, and officials through the statements set out in these policies it will ensure everyone understands what is OK and what is not OK and help prevent that happening in the future.”
Iftikhar Ahmed joins Multan Sultans, Rossouw returns to Quetta Gladiators
Pakistan all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed will don the Multan Sultans’ jersey in the ninth edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL).
In a trade, Iftikhar has moved to Multan Sultans, whereas Rilee Rossouw has returned to his previous franchise, Quetta Gladiators.
🔥🚨 Box-office Trade Alert 🚨🔥
🔁Iftikhar Ahmed joins Multan Sultans
— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) November 30, 2023
The trade deal with Quetta Gladiators also sees Multan Sultans get the first pick in the platinum round one in exchange for Rilee Rossouw and the first Silver category pick.
Iftikhar has evolved into a formidable all-rounder for his power-hitting and foxy off-spin. He brings an experience of 229 T20 matches in which he has scored 4,476 runs. He also has a century in the format to go with 30 half-centuries. Since the start of his career in October 2010, the muscular batter has been smashing a boundary every 6.75 balls. He recently reached the 50-wicket landmark and his economy stands at 7.31.
Iftikhar Ahmed: “I am delighted to become a Sultan. It is an honour for me to represent the people of Multan as their passion for this game is second to none. Multan Sultans have evolved into a strong team and their record in the last three seasons speak for itself. Now, it is my ambition to help them bag the prestigious HBL PSL trophy,” Iftikhar said.
Captain Muhammad Rizwan: “I am very excited to welcome Iftikhar Ahmed. He brings outstanding all-round skills, which we need to be a champion team.
“It was not only his on-field skills that made us finalise this trade, but he is also a brilliant team player who uplifts dressing rooms with his presence. We are eager to put together a set of players whose skills are in sync with our positive, bold and aggressive brand of cricket.”
Leicester slip-up allows Ipswich to close on Championship lead
Leicester’s lead at the top of the Championship was cut to a single point after they conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to draw 1-1 at Sheffield Wednesday, while Ipswich beat Millwall 3-1.
Top was taking on bottom at Hillsborough, but there was an unexpected sting in the tale as Jeff Hendrick’s 93rd-minute goal secured Wednesday just their seventh point in 18 games.
Abdul Fatawu had put Leicester in front midway through the first half.
But the Foxes have now won just one of their last four games as Hendrick fired home from Callum Paterson’s header.
Ipswich had no such trouble as goals from Conor Chaplin, Massimo Luongo and Nathan Broadhead put them 3-0 up before half-time at Portman Road.
Leeds climbed back up to third and within seven points of the top two despite conceding inside the first minute against Swansea.
Joel Piroe quickly levelled against his former club before goals from Georginio Rutter and Dan James sealed a 3-1 win for Daniel Farke’s men.
Kyle Walker-Peters scored the only goal as a 1-0 win over Bristol City was enough to move Southampton up to fourth.
Blackburn are just two points outside the playoffs after beating Wayne Rooney’s Birmingham 4-2.
Former Manchester United and England captain Rooney has just one win in seven games in charge of the Blues.
Huddersfield moved six points clear of the relegation zone thanks to a 2-1 win at Sunderland.
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