Defending world champion Mare Dibaba for gold today


Ethiopia’s defending champion Mare Dibaba, who finished just a second ahead of Kenya’s HelahKiprop to win gold in Beijing in 2:27:35, will seek to match the performance of Kiprop’s compatriot Edna Kiplagat, who in 2013 became the first woman to win back-to-back world titles in the marathon.
But the 27-year-old will face a huge challenge from Bahrain’s 33-year-old Eunice Kirwa, who took bronze behind Dibaba in Beijing and finished one place ahead of her in the silver medal position at last year’s Rio Olympics. Kirwa marked her international debut for Bahrain in 2014 by winning the Asian Games title, and will be after a global title that would effectively crown her career.
She has the best time this year of any entrant – the 2:21:17 she set in winning the Nagoya Marathon on 12 March is sixth on this year’s world list, one place ahead of the 2:21:19 set in finishing second at this year’s Tokyo Marathon by Ethiopia’s BerhaneDibaba, a consistent performer who will be another serious medal challenger.
Ethiopia – for whom, surprisingly, Mare Dibaba has been the only medallist in the history of the event – will also call upon the rising talent of 21-year-old Shure Demise, who has a personal best of 2:20:50 and ran 2:22:57 in finishing second at this year’s Dubai Marathon.
Japan is the strongest challenge to the two East African rivals lining up three strong athletes.The second most successful women’s marathon nation in World Champion with two gold, five silver and a bronze boasts the 23-year-old Yuko Ando, 29-year-old RisaShigetomo and Mao Kiyota for London face off.