Emmanuel Mutai's seventh-place finish last year at the London Marathon was his worst placing at a competition since the 2007 Rotterdam Marathon.
The 28-year-old Kenyan had typhoid that year.
This year, Mutai finished second in the London Marathon to Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede. He was overtaken down the final stretch, and blamed hip and thigh problems for the loss, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN).
It's been a rough couple of years for Mutai since the 2011 campaign, when he captured the London Marathon. While second place is nothing to hang your head about, the fact that the Kenyan had the lead with the finish line approaching yet ultimately lost is a tough way to go.
Mutai came into the 2013 London Marathon with 10 top-10 finishes in marathons (not including the World Championships). That included a win in London in 2011, a win in Amsterdam in 2007 and three second-place finishes. Evidenced by his 2011 title in London, he has the talent to win big-time events.
But the injuries and various ailments have hurt Mutai the past couple of years, as he's been reduced to reminiscing about what might have been. Who knows how he could have finished at the London Marathon these past two years if he was healthy. Perhaps he would have won both if he had been feeling good.
As Mutai ages, he's going to have fewer and fewer opportunities to win a marathon again. It's only logical that his body will wear down as he continues to run long distances. His second-place finish on Sunday was encouraging compared to his 2012 effort, but the fact that he was run down by Kebede at the end is a bit disheartening.
Mutai is still one of the best marathon runners in the world—as evidenced by his track record—but does he have what it takes to win again? More importantly, will he be able to enter a marathon healthy after so many issues recently?
Will Mutai's breakthrough at the 2011 London Marathon be a sign of better things to come or the last hurrah for the Kenyan? One thing's for sure: The warning signs of a decline are there.
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