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London Marathon: Mo Farah backed by Eliud Kipchoge after injury blow

Mo Farah can overcome hip injury setback and return to his best, says legend Eliud Kipchoge, after Britain’s four-time Olympic gold medallist withdrew from the London Marathon

  • Farah, 39, pulled out of Sunday’s London Marathon because of a hip injury
  • He is just one of several withdrawals from the elite fields in the 26.2mile race
  • But British Olympic legend has received the backing of Kenyan star Kipchoge
  • Kipchoge will also be there only in a ceremonial role after smashing world record in Berlin last weekend

With an injured body and fading strengths, Mo Farah will limit himself to a watching brief at Sunday’s London Marathon, but he has been encouraged to prolong his career by the best there ever was.

That Farah has withdrawn with a hip problem is one of multiple blows of misfortune to befall the race’s organisers, who have seen their elite fields hit hard by injuries in the build-up.

It has also played to the suspicion that at the age of 39, his days of competitive athletics could be over, with sources having previously indicated he might have called time if his performance in the capital had proven he is no longer among the front-runners.

Mo Farah was forced to withdraw from Sunday’s London Marathon because of a hip injury

Sir Mo Farah had won a warm-up race earlier this month in preparation for London Marathon

Sir Mo Farah had won a warm-up race earlier this month in preparation for London Marathon

However, he has received an endorsement from Eliud Kipchoge, who will perform a ceremonial role at the race as he recovers from breaking his marathon world record in Berlin last weekend. 

The great Kenyan, 37 and going well, said: ‘Absolutely, Mo Farah can still keep going. I wish him a quick recovery from injury. Injuries are part of the challenges of elite sport.

‘I think Mo will come back stronger. The training is there and he can come back and show the world what is actually in this man.

‘Age is a number. If you are training well and focused on what you are doing, then you can continue to perform. He can still win the best races. Mo Farah has a lot more to give.’

Kipchoge broke the marathon world record by running 2:01.09 in Berlin last weekend

Kipchoge broke the marathon world record by running 2:01.09 in Berlin last weekend

It says something for the multitude of withdrawals, including Brigid Kosgei, Eilish McColgan, Vincent Kipchumba and Mosinet Geremew, that many eyes on Sunday will be drawn to Kipchoge and away from the roads.

With the four-time champion watching rather than running, there will be heightened uncertainty around the winner of the men’s race. 

In the questionable view of some bookmakers, his place as favourite will be Kenenisa Bekele, that ageing master of everything from the track to cross-country who, by his own estimation, is the greatest distance athlete of all time.

In conversation with a handful of reporters on Saturday, Kipchoge shared that assessment, saying: ‘I agree that Kenenisa is the best of all time. He has a lot of medals in cross country, track, Olympics, and he has done well in the marathon. I agree he is the best.

Kenenisa Bekele has admitted he thinks he is the greatest long-distance runner of all time

Kenenisa Bekele has admitted he thinks he is the greatest long-distance runner of all time

He is bidding to win the London Marathon for the first time ever this Sunday at the age of 40

He is bidding to win the London Marathon for the first time ever this Sunday at the age of 40

‘He has been a positive role model to me and the whole generation. He has won so much.’

Bekele’s accomplishments are beyond dispute, with the Ethiopian standing as a three-time Olympic gold medallist, a 17-time world champion and a the former holder of world records at 5,000m and 10,000m, as well as the second quickest marathon runner in history. 

However, at the age of 40 and with no great marathon form since his 2:01.41 run in 2019, better arguments for this race might be made for Amos Kipruto, Bashir Abdi or Sisay Lemma, the defending champion.

The women’s race will be lit up by the possibilities around the fast-emerging Ethiopian 23-year-old, Yalemzerf Yehualaw. 

She clocked 2:17.23 in Hamburg earlier this year – the fastest ever marathon debut – and holds the 10km road world record, so could threaten Mary Keitany’s course record 2:17.01, set in 2017.

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