KAMPALA- Solomon Mutai left Scottish city Glasgow a disgruntled man after the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
He had missed out on a medal in the men’s marathon, finishing fourth behind compatriot Abraham Kiplimo. Yet, the latter had fallen down before taking bronze in wet conditions.
Four years later, Mutai wants to forget the Glasgow near miss by winning the men’s marathon - the final athletics event at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia today.
“Yes, I am ready to fight for it,” the soft-spoken runner opened up to Sunday Monitor as he bids for Uganda’s fourth gold at the Games. “It can happen in God’s name,” said Mutai, who warmed up with 1:04:01 in 16th place at the Riyadh Half-Marathon in Saud Arabia.
To back his desire, Mutai’s CV has grown bigger over the 42km race with eight-place finishes in major marathons since Glasgow.
Two years after winning the Mombasa Marathon, he won bronze in extreme humid conditions at the Beijing World Championships in 2015.
At the Rio Olympics, the 25-year-old was Uganda’s best over the distance, taking eighth place after a heavy downpour in Sambódromo ahead of 2012 Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich and Jackson Kiprop.
Mutai’s personal best of 2:09:59, set when he finished third at last year’s Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan, is the fourth best time in the field here.Only Kenyans Nicholas Kamakya (2:06:34), Julius Karinga (2:08:01) and 2017 Gold Coast Marathon winner Kenneth Muranga (2:07:36) have run faster.
The weather forecast projects a sunny morning of 32 degrees Celsius for the 22-man field in the Southport Broadwater Parklands which includes other Ugandans Robert Chemonges and Alex Chesakit, who finished fourth at the Toronto Marathon last year.
“The weather here is good and all plans will come to pass if I start well,” Mutai added.
He will need great support from Chesakit and 2017 Dusseldorf Marathon winner Chemonges who wants a better finish having taken 43rd place at the London Worlds last year.
Also to note, hosts Australia have won the most men’s and women’s Commonwealth Games’ Marathon gold medals with five apiece.
Here, Australia is led by 2014 Commonwealth gold medallist Michael Shelley and the field also has Scot Callum Hawkins, fourth in London last year.
Ugandans in Marathon
Time: 1:15pm (Ugandan time)
Solomon Mutai, Alex Chesakit, Robert Chemonges
MARATHON CAREER PROGRESSION
2013: Mombasa Marathon - 1st (2:14:21)
2014: Commonwealth Games - 4th (2:12:26)
2014: Hainan Danzhou Marathon - 3rd (2:12:59)
2015: Hannover Marathon - 5th (2:10:42)
2015: Beijing Worlds Champs - 3rd (2:13:30)
2016: Lake Biwa Marathon - 11th (2:14:57)
2016: Rio Olympics - 8th (2:11:49)
2017: Lake Biwa Marathon - 3rd (2:09:59)
2017: London Worlds Champs - 11th (2:13:29)
MUTAI AT A GLANCE
Full name: Solomon Munyo Mutai
Date of Birth: October 22, 1992
Home town: Bukwo
Main Event: Marathon
Personal Best: 2:09:59
Manager: Giani Damadona (Italian)
Coaches: Alex Malinga, Gabriele Rosa
Kit Sponsor: Adidas