Johannes, Thomas to face Japan’s heat

Seasoned marathon runners Helalia Johannes and Rainold Thomas will be racing against the best in the world, as well as against the hot weather in Japan.

04 August 2021 | Sports

LIMBA MUPETAMI

WINDHOEK

The coach of Namibia's top female and male long-distance runners, Robert Kaxuxuena, says the two athletes, Helalia Johannes and Rainold Thomas, are feeling very well and positive about their races scheduled for the weekend.

The soft-spoken Kaxuexuena was speaking to Namibian Sun yesterday after the athletes’ training session.

He said the two runners were trying to adjust to hot and humid conditions.

“It’s very hot here, but they are going to try their best,” he said.

The women’s marathon takes place on Saturday (12:00), whereas the men’s race will take place the following day, which is the final day of the Games, both starting at the Sapporo Odori Park.

Strong line-up

The races were originally scheduled for Tokyo, but were moved to Sapporo to avoid the capital city’s punishing summer heat. The move may mean little to the competitors, as temperatures in Sapporo are set to hit an unseasonably high 32 Celsius in the coming days.

The competitors have thoroughly prepared for the race and will stick to the game plan, Kaxuexuena said.

Johannes will compete against the world record holder, Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04), who won the London Marathon in 2019 and 2020 and is the world record holder in a marathon run by men and women, having recorded the time in 2019 in Chicago.

Another athlete to watch out for in the race is Ruth Chepngetich, who will be making her Olympic debut. She was the marathon world champion in 2019 and in April this year she smashed the world half-marathon record in Istanbul. The ladies will also attempt to break Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia’s Olympic record of 2:23:07.

Thomas faces stern test

In the men’s race, Thomas is likely to go up against the likes of Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s greatest marathon runner. The reigning Olympic champion is 36 and has done it all, but he still means business. Other contenders in the race include Ethiopians Birhanu Legese and Shura Kitata; the latter won the London Marathon in 2020.

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