Principal Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Defending champions Francis Kibiwott and Lineth Chepkirui on Friday withdrew from Sunday’s Vodafone Delhi half-marathon following flare-up of injuries they suffered in the previous races this season.

Despite their withdrawal the field still looks formidable with the World No. 3 Wilson Kiprotich, Philip Rugut, both from Kenya, and Rwandan Diudone Disi making up the interesting line-up.

Kibiwott suffered an injury on October 14 at the World half-marathon championships in Udine, Italy.

“His injury flared up a week ago and his best efforts failed to get him in right shape for the event in Delhi,” his agent, Ian Ladbrokes said. The 2006 women’s champion Lineth Chepkirui was also down with injury, which did not heal in time for her to take the flight out to Delhi.

Missed flight

Meanwhile, Kiprotich missed his flight to Delhi on Thursday night, but Ladbrokes insisted that the Kenyan would reach here on Saturday morning and run on Sunday.

“India is fast emerging as new venue for international athletes to run races, and precisely that is the reason I am here for,” said Isaac Macharia of Kenya. Macharia, who took up running to support his higher studies in economics, said road running has given him stability and fame and hoped to carry on with the sport till his body supports the tough regime.

The 27-year-old Kenyan has won two of the three half-marathon races he ran in 2007. That makes him one of the top contenders when the race begins on Sunday morning. Macharia finished fourth in Rotterdam, before winning the Bogota and Scottish half-marathons.

Macharia, whose personal best in 60.53 minutes, clocked at the Route de Vin half-marathon last year, said he hopes to get into the Kenyan team for the next year’s Olympic Games in Beijing. “But I will do only marathon as track is not my style,” he said.

Kenya’s dominance

Underlining Kenya’s dominance in running was the 32-year-old Caroline Kwambai, the winner of 2007 Paris half-marathon. “Running has given me everything that I have now after being born in sheer poverty,” said Caroline.

She started running at the age of 15 and stopped when she got married.

Eight years later, in 2000, Caroline decided to rejoin the international running season and since then has been a regular feature.

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