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Kenya’s Stanley Biwott is familiar with running in Brazil and the reigning New York City Marathon champion fears pollution and humidity could complicate his quest for glory in the men’s marathon at the Rio Olympics.
The 30-year-old Biwott, who was a runner-up at the London Marathon in April where he had a personal best of two hours, three minutes and 50 seconds, knows Brazil but does not feel that will give him an edge in Sunday’s race.
“Although I am familiar with conditions in Brazil, having stayed here for some six months in 2009 doing local road races, humidity and pollution could be a problem, especially for foreign runners,” Biwott told Reuters on Sunday after an 11-hour trip from Kenya.
“We have a strong team, no doubt, especially with Eliud (Kipchoge) in the team. Between us, we are confident of doing well, most likely winning, more so after Jemima Sumgong won the women’s marathon title (on Sunday).
“I have stayed in this country and I know it. I won Sao Silvestre ’15 road race … but that is in Sao Paolo, which is different from Rio. However, local athletes may have an advantage, which we are aware even as we start on Sunday.”
Biwott is considered the dark horse among the three Kenyan runners competing in Sunday’s marathon, a group that also includes former Boston Marathon winner Wesley Korir.
Biwott trained for Rio with the defending Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, but that won’t be able to prepare him for what could lie ahead.
“We prepared well and the only threat is pollution and humidity,” said Biwott.
Biwott, managed by Italian Federico Rosa, who is facing doping-related court charges in Kenya, said he has put those issues behind and is now focusing on the big prize.
“Definitely, we (his athletes) were affected, but that is now behind us,” said Biwott. “We have come here to do well and vindicate him (Federico).”