Sat, Jan 18, 2020 - Page 16 News List

Bekele to face Kipchoge in April’s London Marathon

The Guardian

Kenenisa Bekele said he has agreed to join Eliud Kipchoge in a London Marathon for the ages in April, adding that he is not surprised that Mo Farah is leaning toward not returning to the course.

Bekele — a three-time Olympic gold medalist who has won 17 world titles in cross-country, track and road events — roared with laughter when asked what he thought of Farah’s decision to leave the marathon and then added: “I am not surprised. Of course if you see Mo Farah’s races in marathons, he’s struggling — it’s not easy to get good results over a marathon. You need experience. It’s a different course, a different racing mentality — but it is really hard for all of us.”

“You need to learn how to run it and also the training is different,” Bekele said. “I think it’s harder, not only for Mo, but for all of us — even I struggled.”

However the Ethiopian, who ran the second-fastest marathon time in history in Berlin in September — only two seconds shy of Kipchoge’s official world record of 2 hours, 1 minute, 39 seconds — said that Farah is still good enough to win a medal in the 10,000m at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“I’m sure we’ll see Mo doing better things on the track. If he focuses and concentrates like before, I’m sure he will be in the medals in the 10,000m,” Bekele added. “I’ve no doubt about that.”

Bekele still holds the 5,000m (set in 2004) and 10,000m (2005) world records and said that he is capable of claiming Kipchoge’s marathon best, even at the age of 37.

“My training is going well and I feel well,” he said. “Before last year, I was struggling with injury. Everyone knows I’m a strong athlete from 15 years on the track. When we came to the marathon, I’ve struggled maybe to achieve good results, but of course this is because of injury, not a lack of training or my personality. I was a bit behind, but my health came back and now I’m doing a lot better in the marathon.”

Bekele also admitted that the sight of his great Kenyan rival running a marathon in less than two hours in Vienna in October — although it was an event that was not recognized by the World Athletics sports governing body — has spurred him on.

“When he ran under two hours, and of course it is not recognized, but it made me very motivated,” he said. “If someone like me also gets this big chance, we will do a similar thing or do better. I believe in myself — you need the opportunity of course, but some athletes will do a similar thing.”

The two have met four times in marathons, with Kipchoge winning all four races, but Bekele has the better head-to-head record across all distances and surfaces.

“I am looking forward to racing Eliud once again,” Bekele added. “We have had many great battles over the years on the track, roads and cross-country. My big dream is to break the world record and an amazing performance will happen at the London Marathon.”

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