New York Marathon champion Wilson Kipsang is not taking his selection into the Kenya team for the 42k distance lightly.

New York Marathon champion Wilson Kipsang is not taking his selection into the Kenya team for the 42k distance lightly.

With less than three weeks to the World Championships, Wilson has thrown down the gauntlet to his opponents, saying he is ready to become a world champion. Kipsang, 33, will be making his debut at the World Championships and yearns for a world title, which is one of the medals missing from his collection. “That is why my focus is now completely on becoming a world marathon champion. The conditions in Beijing are going to be very tough because of the heat and humidity. That’s why I started training in similar conditions to get used to running in this type of climate,” he said. Kipsang, together with world marathon record holder Dennis Kimetto, and winner in Berlin and Paris Marathon Mark Korir, made the cut when Kenya named its team on Saturday to compete in Beijing. “It’s up to us to reclaim the World championship title,” said Kipsang. “After winning bronze at the Olympics, I am now looking forward to Beijing. I’m ready to become a world champion.”

“The Olympic games and the World championships are special races for me. There are no pace makers and we will be competing against the best runners in the world. “Kenya is home to so many great athletes, so I am really proud that I got the chance to represent my country.”

Kipsang was second in this year’s London Marathon in a race won by compatriot Eliud Kipchoge in April. He has also run in Manchester 10K, New York 10K, the half marathon of Zwolle and the half marathon of Olomouc (Czech Republic). “In the last three weeks, my focus has been on the world marathon championships. We will race on the 22 of August, so we have about three weeks of training left. I feel confident that I will appear in top shape at the start of the race,” he said. One of the athletes he will compete with is Uganda’s hero and World marathon champion, Stephen Kiprotich. The 26-year-old is a national hero in Uganda, where he is unable to walk down the streets for fear of causing a traffic pile-up. If Kiprotich is successful in Beijing, he will become the fourth athlete to retain his world marathon title after Spaniard Abel Anton (1997/99), Jaouad Gharib (2003/05) of Morocco and Kenyan Abel Kirui (2009/11).

Kiprotich’s capability in winning on the big occasion has made him a celebrity in Uganda. After the London Olympics, his life changed for the better.

“Before London, I was unknown,” he said in an interview before competing at the Tokyo marathon in February. “After London, I became so famous in my country. It used to be possible for me to walk down the street before that win, but now it’s not possible. Everything stops really. Cars stop, people stop and point. Children follow me. I have to be careful,” he said. Kipsang was third at Tokyo Marathon in February in a national record of 2:06:33 behind Endeshaw Negesse, who has been named on the provisional Ethiopian marathon team. But recent weeks haven’t been smooth sailing for Kiprotich, whose training has been hindered by a persistent knee injury.

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