Kenenisa Bekele withdraws from London marathon with calf injury

The three-time Olympic champion from Ethiopia was expected to go head to head with Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge at the elite only race on Sunday, October 4th.

By Evelyn Watta

One of the pre-race favourites Kenenisa Bekele has withdrawn from the 2020 London marathon on Sunday October 4th with a calf injury.

The three-time Olympic champion, who was expected to be Eliud Kipchoge’s biggest threat as he seeks an unprecedented fifth London marathon title, suffered the injury in training.

"I was in good shape but then I picked up a niggle in my left calf after two fast training sessions close together in the last weeks of preparation," he said.

“I have been having treatment every day since then and I truly believed I would be ready, but today it is worse and I now know I cannot race on it.”

The Ethiopian missed Kipchoge's world record by two seconds when he won in Berlin in 2019 in two hours one minute 41 seconds.

"My time in Berlin last year gave me great confidence and motivation and I was looking forward to show that again, I have worked so hard for it. I realise many people around the world have been looking forward to this race and I am sorry to disappoint my fans, the organisers and my fellow competitors,' he said in a statement.

In April 2020, Bekele, the holder of 17 world titles over cross-country, track, and road, told the Olympic Channel that he was eager to make up for that world record miss with another fast run, as he feels he's still in top form.

“To run against Eliud Kipchoge…the two of us, having prepared well. I'm sure something could have happened on that day."

Kenenisa Bekele and Eliud Kipchoge at the 2016 London marathon.

He arrived in London, on Monday, September 28th, with the rest of the athletes and has been staying with the other elite athletes and teams in the biosecure hotel bubble.

Bekele, second at the 2017 edition and third in 2016, was hopeful that he would recover from the injury he picked up while training with his teammates in Addis Ababa, in late September.

“I am feeling well and happy to be back in London to run for my fifth title," he said at Wednesday's press conference.

" I think the race will be a really fruitful one for us on Sunday and a fast race."

Bekele could possibly race at the Valencia Marathon that will also hold an elite Edition marathon and half marathon on December 6th.

"I will take time to recover and become fit again and I hope to be back in London next year.”

Boston and Chicago marathon champion Lawrence Cherono of Kenya and Ethiopia’s 2019 World Champion Lelisa Desisa are among some of the top names confirmed for the marathon in the Spanish city.