The fastest marathoner in history says he has let bygones be bygones regarding his Olympic snub.
Justin Lagat, our correspondent in Kenya, recently caught up with the fastest marathoner of all-time, Geoffrey Mutai, at his training base in Kapng’etuny. Mutai, who was left off the Kenyan Olympic Marathon team following his DNF at the Boston Marathon this past April, will run the Berlin Marathon this September, where he hopes to take down the official marathon world record of 2:03:38 set last fall by his countryman, Patrick Makau.
Here’s a sneak peek of the interview with Mutai, which we will publish in full before Berlin next month, where he shares his thoughts about being left off the Olympic team and gives us his picks for gold in the men’s 10,000m and marathon.
When you were not included on the Olympic team, despite being ranked by the IAAF as the world’s number one [marathoner], a lot of people were disappointed. Were you also disappointed? What do you tell your fans?
I really wanted so much to go to the Olympics, but…it was something beyond my control and there was really nothing I could do about my being left out. It was painful when I heard the news, which came as a surprise to me because even after failing to finish at this year’s Boston Marathon, the officials at Athletics Kenya (AK) had nevertheless assured me that they were going to include me on the team and had even given me the go-ahead to go and survey the course in London, and I did fly there directly from Boston.
The athletes who were named for the marathon team are my friends. We meet often and I do wish them the best. Like myself, they didn’t have any say on who was to be selected for the team. I know that the exclusion of me and Patrick Makau in the team gives great motivation and hopes to the athletes from the rest of the world, especially from Ethiopia. Sometimes, a race is won psychologically and the exclusion of athletes who are ranked by IAAF to be stronger gives hope to the other competitors.
For my fans, I have let bygones be bygones. I am now concentrating on my next race, the Berlin Marathon.
What are your predictions for the men’s 10,000m [which take place on Saturday, August 4] and the marathon [August 12] at the Olympics?
Most of the time, Kenyan athletes are out-kicked by Ethiopian athletes towards the finish in the long distance track events. It will depend on how the race will be run; a slower pace will favor the Ethiopians because of their finishing kicks. If the Kenyans will work as a team to run hard in the first laps, then definitely, a gold medal will come to Kenya. I have more hopes in Wilson Kiprop since we have run in a number of races together and I know him to be a guy who is able to adjust to any tactics employed in the race, is self-disciplined in his training and takes advice from coaches seriously.
The course for the marathon has got too many corners, unlike the normal one annually used for the London City Marathon. If the same course was to be used, it would be safe to expect all the medals to go to the Kenyans. But I still believe Wilson Kipsang is likely to win the gold medal.