Kenyan-born Bahraini enters the race in good form having claimed a runner-up finish last time out in Beijing
Eunice Chumba targets 'special' win at Abu Dhabi Marathon as part of Tokyo Olympics preparations
Eunice Chumba has said the inaugural Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon will play a vital role in her ambitions of competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Kenyan-born Bahraini arrives in the UAE capital following a runner-up finish at the Beijing Marathon in her last outing in September. She also claimed a silver medal at the Asian Games in Jakarta in August in the 10,000-metres.
Chumba, 25, is yet to compete at an Olympic Games, but has set her sights on a place in Japan, with everything now geared up to achieving her aim.
“My goal has always been to run in the marathon at the Olympics,” she said at the pre-race conference at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council on Wednesday. “I prepare my training and the races with that in mind.”
“I have been preparing for the Abu Dhabi Marathon since my last race in China, and I’m well prepared for this race on Friday.
“It’s the first marathon in Abu Dhabi and it will be special to win it because this event is going to be staged every year from now on. To become the first champion would be unique.”
Chumba is confident of a fast time on the flat Abu Dhabi course, and will be aiming to set a new personal best, although she believes a world record time is still out of reach.
The women’s world record is held by Britain’s Paula Radcliffe, her time of two hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds set in 2003.
“It’s not easy to break the world record but a personal best timing is certainly my aim in this race,” said Chumba, who clocked her the season’s best time of 2:26:56 in Beijing.
“It means I can keep improving my personal best. My objective would be to achieve 2:20 or 2:21. My best is 2.24 at the moment.
“The marathon world record for women has stood for 15 years and that’s how hard it is to achieve.”
The men’s field pose a bigger challenge headed by the Kenyans and Ethiopians.
In the men’s race, Henry Biwott, one of the most experienced marathon runners, is expecting a fiercely-contested Abu Dhabi Marathon.
“It’s as good as all the top international marathons, and that’s the type of race we are all here for,” said the Kenyan, who won the 2012 Paris Marathon and 2015 New York City Marathon.
Abraham Kiptum, who broke the world record for the half-marathon in Valencia in October, believes he can take the momentum forward.
“I have trained as well as everyone else in the race,” he said. “It’s a beautiful city and very nice weather. It suits me and hopefully I can achieve a good result.”
Aref Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, has called on residents in the capital to get out and support the race and its runners.
“This being the first marathon in Abu Dhabi, we would love to have everyone in the city, up early, and getting on to the roads to either participate or cheer the runners,” he said.
“May I also remind that the registrations are still open and urge everyone to come with their families and join us to make this first marathon a memorable one.”