Paris marathon champion Lonyangata in hat-trick Paris hunt
Two-timed Paris marathon champion Paul Lonyangata is confident of reclaiming the title he last won in 2018 during the 44th edition of the race which has been rescheduled to October 18 in the French capital.
Lonyangata run a personal best 2:06:10 when he won his maiden Paris Marathon title in 2017 before becoming the second man to defend it the following year when he clocked 2:06:25.
The only other man to have defended the Paris Marathon is Briton Steve Brace, who won in 1989 before staging a successful defence the year after and Lonyangata now wants to be out there on his on.
“My training is going on well and I am looking forward to a good run. I want to be on the podium by retaining my title. My prayer is to repeat what I did in 2018,” Lonyangata told People Sport at the weekend.
Lonyangata became the first athlete in 28 years to claim back-to-back Paris Marathons in 2018 but missed out on a piece of his own history last year when he slipped, allowing Ethiopian Abrha Milaw to win the race and deny him an unprecedented hat-trick.
The couple’s success, on April 9, 2007, put a smile back on the face of Kenyan athletics 48 hours after the shock news of Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong’s failed dope test.
The athlete, who hails from West Pokot County, is, however, wary of the strong line up set to go head-to-head with him in Paris.
Lonyangata will come up against fellow Kenyans in former Commonwealth 5,000m champion Augustine Choge, Hillary Kipsambu, Ishmael Bushendich and Barselius Kipyego. Ethiopians with sub-2:05 personal bests such as Asefa Mengistu and Yemane Tsegay are also in the race.
“I am in good form but the field this year has many Kenyan athletes. They are also good and I will do my best to retain the title I won in 2018,” said Lonyangata.
Lonyangata and his wife Purity Rionoripo made history in 2017 when they became the first couple to win the same race, both claiming the Paris Marathon honours.
In last year’s edition, Ethiopians won the race in both men and women with Milaw shattering Lonyangata’s dream while Gelete Burka clocked 2:22:47 for victory.