Home > The Scene

Athletics Kenya names Olympic marathon team

Unsurprisingly, Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei will both be heading to Tokyo as part of the Kenyan Olympic squad

Athletics Kenya has officially named its Olympic marathon team, and it will come as no surprise to see that marathon world record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei made the cut. They will be joined by six other athletes (three men and three women), making an impressive and strong team. The full squad is listed below, along with their marathon PBs, other stats and why they could each grab a spot on the Olympic podium. 

Eliud Kipchoge 

Marathon PB: 2:01:39 (world record); unofficial record of 1:59:40 

Olympic appearances: 2004, 2008, 2016

Kipchoge makes history to become the first human being to run a marathon in under two hours. Photo: Bob Martin for The INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

Why he can win in Tokyo: Kipchoge is the defending Olympic champion, the current world record holder and in 2019 he became the first person to run a sub-two-hour marathon. He is a clear favourite to win another gold medal. 

RELATED: Why Eliud Kipchoge needs to win his next marathon

Brigid Kosgei 

Marathon PB: 2:14:04 (world record)

Olympic appearances: Tokyo will be her debut 

Kosgei after her record-setting performance in Chicago. Photo: Twitter/ChiMarathon

Why she can win in Tokyo: Kosgei won the London Marathon in 2019 and set the marathon world record in Chicago later that same year. In 2020, she won in London again, crushing the rest of the stacked elite field. She is undoubtedly one of the strongest marathoners in the world right now, and it shouldn’t be a surprise if she wins in her Olympic debut. 

Lawrence Cherono

Marathon PB: 2:03:04 (seventh-fastest in history)

Olympic appearances: Tokyo will be his debut 

Why he can win in Tokyo: Since his debut at the distance in 2014, Lawrence Cherono has made the podium in all but two of the marathons he has raced. In 2019, he won the Boston and Chicago marathons, and last year, in his only race of the season, he ran to a second-place finish at the Valencia Marathon. He thrives on the grand stage, and so his best can be expected this summer at the Olympics. 

RELATED: Olympic officials release new athlete rulebook for Tokyo 2021

Peres Jepchirchir

Marathon PB: 2:17:16 (fifth-fastest in history) 

Olympic appearances: Tokyo will be her debut 

Jepchirchir celebrates after her half-marathon world record in Prague.

Why she can win in Tokyo: Peres Jepchirchir is relatively inexperienced in the marathon with only three races on her resume. She has seen tremendous improvements after each marathon, though, starting with a 2:47:33 debut in 2013, followed by a 2:23:50 in 2019 and finally her PB of 2:17:16 from her win at the Valencia Marathon last year. She has also proven to be one of the best half-marathoners in history after setting the women-only half-marathon world record on two occasions in 2020 and winning the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Poland. She’s only getting faster, and she could steal the show this summer. 

Amos Kipruto

Marathon PB: 2:03:30 (11th-fastest in history) 

Olympic appearances: Tokyo will be his debut 

Why he can win in Tokyo: Amos Kipruto has had a great record in the marathon over the past few years. In 2018, he finished on the podium at the Tokyo and Berlin marathons, and a year later, he won bronze at the world championships in Doha, Qatar. He had a subpar performance at last year’s Tokyo Marathon, but he made up for it at the end of the season in Valencia, where he ran to his PB in fourth. After a string of consistent years, he looks capable of producing a big run at the Games. 

RELATED: NN Running Team links up with Hamburg Marathon to create elite-only race

Vivian Cheruiyot

Marathon PB: 2:18:31 (11th-fastest in history) 

Olympic appearances: 2000, 2008, 2012, 2016

Vivian Cheruiyot
Cheruiyot celebrates after her 5,000m win at the Rio Olympics.

Why she can win in Tokyo: Vivian Cheruiyot has competed at the Games before, running to four Olympic medals on the track. She is the reigning Olympic 5,000m champion, but after making the move to the marathon in 2017, she will be competing on the road this summer. She knows what it takes to win on the Olympic stage, and as she has shown at many races in the past four years, she still has the legs to carry her onto the podium. 

Vincent Kipchumba

Marathon PB: 2:05:09 (64th-fastest in history) 

Olympic appearances: Tokyo will be his debut

Why he can win in Tokyo: He may have the lowest-ranking marathon PB of the entire Kenyan team, but Vincent Kipchumba has proven that he can compete with the world’s best over 42.2K. In 2019, he won the Amsterdam Marathon, where he ran his PB, and last year, he placed second at the London Marathon, losing by just one second in a thrilling print finish. Kipchumba ran 2:05:42 in London, running just 33 seconds off his PB despite brutal conditions that beat down many athletes (including Kipchoge). If his run in London is any indication of what he can do in the marathon, then Kipchumba is definitely a threat to run onto the Olympic podium. 

RELATED: Japanese woman sets W60 world record with 2:52 marathon in Osaka

Ruth Chepngetich

Marathon PB: 2:17:08 (fourth-fastest in history) 

Olympic appearances: Tokyo will be her debut 

Ruth Chepngetich winning the 2019 Dubai Marathon. Photo: Twitter

Why she can win in Tokyo: Ruth Chepngetich ran her marathon debut in 2017, kicking off her career with a 2:22:36. She has quickly risen through the ranks, and in 2019 she ran her PB to break into the top five all-time. With six marathons on her resume, she has yet to miss the podium, and in 2019 she won gold at the world championships. She followed that up with one marathon in 2020, running to third at the London Marathon. Chepngetich might not have as much experience as some of her competitors, but she runs like a veteran all the same.