Nairobi - Kenyan athletics selectors have been forced into wholesale changes to the marathon team for the August 4-13 IAAF World Athletics Championships in London following the withdraw of four top runners including Olympic men's champion Eliud Kipchoge.
Kipchoge, who narrowly missed out on becoming the first athlete to run a sub-two hour marathon last month, said he needed to rest after the gruelling record attempt in Monza, Italy.
He is joined on the withdrawal list by former world record holder Wilson Kipsang, who failed to win nomination for a parliamentary seat last month and is believed to be eyeing a shot at the Berlin marathon title in September.
Other athletes who have backed out for consideration include three-time London marathon women's winner Mary Keitany and former world half-marathon record holder Florence Kiplagat.
In their absence, the selectors have named two-time women's world champion Edna Kiplagat and Daniel Wanjiru, the reigning London marathon men's champion, to spearhead the nine-member team which is expected to start preparations for the worlds in early June.
The husband-and-wife duo of Paul Lonyangata and Purity Rionoripo, who won the men and women's titles at the Paris marathon in April, have been named as reserves.
Kenya marathon team for London world championships:
Geoffrey Kirui, Daniel Wanjiru, Gedion Kipketer, Paul Lonyangata (reserve)
Edna Kiplagat, Helah Kiprop, Flomena Cheyech, Valentine Kipketer, Purity Rionoripo (reserves)