Kissa aims for historic win at Tokyo Marathon

Kissa will give the Tokyo Marathon his best shot. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

Kissa became the first Ugandan to run a 42km race under two hours and five minutes when he posted 2:04:48.

Stephen Kissa’s marathon debut last April was stellar. He may have lost his lead with about 1000m left but he set a new national record (NR) in second place at the Hamburg Marathon in Germany.

Kissa became the first Ugandan to run a 42km race under two hours and five minutes when he posted 2:04:48.

Whereas he had a tough time when he stepped into a hole after 32km and twisted his ankle thereby withering from a top-four placing to finish 21st at the Chicago Marathon in Illinois, USA in October.

Kissa however is a man who knows how to bounce back from bad moments. He will line-up at the Tokyo Marathon in Japan on Sunday with hope to do better.

“I will be happy with a victory,” the 27-year-old said before departing on Tuesday. “Looking at my body, I have trained,” he said.

This will be his second career World Marathon Major (WMM) after Chicago. In history, no Ugandan has won a city WMM, of course Stephen Kiprotich won the championship WMM events of the London 2012 Olympics and the 2013 Moscow World Championships.

It implies a win for Kissa will be historic for the country. His coach Addy Ruiter has already made it clear that the podium is the target. 

“He will go of course with the first group,” Dutch man Ruiter said. Kissa’s last trip to Tokyo was bizarre. 

He led with a sizable gap for the first 16 laps but the rest of the pack including his training partner Joshua Cheptegei didn’t follow through in the 10000m final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics two years ago.

Kissa is back and now wants better on road as he builds up for the Budapest Worlds set for Hungary in August.

The Ugandan warmed up for Tokyo by posting 1:03:13 over 21km on a windy course at the Bahrain Royal Night Half Marathon in Manama on December 23.

“I ran well then but now, I want to do better. I am looking at 2:04 or 2:03 and I hope the conditions suit me,” he added. In case Kissa dips under sub-2:03h, this will be a new NR.

He is in a field with nine sub-2:05 runners such as Kenyans Bernard Kiprop Koech and Hamburg Marathon champion Cybrian Kotut, last year’s London 2021 champion Sisay Lemma as well as Ethiopian counterpart Amsterdam Marathon winner Tsegay Getachew and homeboy Suguru Osako.


Full Name: Stephen Kissa

Date of birth: Dec 1, 1995

Major Events: Half-Marathon, Marathon

Personal Bests: 58:56 (21km), 2:04:48 (42km)

Coach: Addy Ruiter

Manager: Jurrie van der Velden


Apr 24, 2022: Hamburg Marathon, 4th (2:04:48)

Oct 9, 2022: Chicago Marathon, 21st (2:13:16)



1 Stephen Kissa; Hamburg Marathon (2nd, 2:04:48 on Apr 24, 2022)

2 Victor Kiplangat; Hamburg Marathon (4th, 2:05:09 on Apr 24, 2022)

3 Solomon Mutai; Venice Marathon (1st, 2:08:10 on Oct 23, 2022)

4 Filex Chemongesi; Linz Marathon (8th, 2:08:42 on Oct 23, 2022)

5 Martin Musau; Amsterdam Marathon (12th, 2:09:04 on Oct 16, 2022)

6 Geofrey Kusuro; Madrid Marathon (2nd, 2:09:23 on Apr 24, 2022)

Entry Standard: 2:09:40, Qualifying window: Dec 1, 2021 - May 30, 2023