Gebrselassie targets 2:02 hrs in marathon

NAIROBI, (Reuters) – World marathon record holder Haile Gebrselassie predicted yesterday that he would become the first man to clock two hours two minutes over 42.195 kms.

Gebrselassie, 37, is the only man to run under 2:04 after setting his world record of 2:03:59 in Berlin two years ago.

“There are good runners around. Imagine, a 2:05 in the Boston Marathon but I think I am the candidate to break it again. A 2:02 is very much possible,” Gebrselassie told Reuters in an interview.

Gebrselassie, who won Olympic golds in 1996 and 2000 in the 10,000 plus four consecutive world titles, set world marathon records in 2007 and 2008 in Berlin on what is considered the fastest marathon course in the world.

The Ethiopian, who has targeted the marathon title at the 2012 London Olympics, did not say when or where he planned to try and set a new record. He won the Berlin marathon for a fourth straight year in 2009 but failed to beat his best time.

Gebrselassie said he was not surprised that compatriot Tsegaye Kebede had defied the combined efforts of a powerful Kenyan contingent to win the London marathon on Sunday.

Kebede ran unopposed in the final 10 kms on a slippery surface to clock 2:05:19, nine seconds outside the course record set by Kenyan Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru last year.

“I was not surprised when Kebede won in London yesterday. He has been consistent since winning bronze in the Beijing Olympics and another bronze in the Berlin world championships last year,” Gebrselassie said.

“The surface was not very good, but this is sport where the unexpected happens many times. Many other favourites lost. But Kebede was in very good shape.”

Gebrselassie said many Ethiopians were turning to the marathon because of his performances and because there were not enough track stadiums in their country.
The former Ethiopian police force officer said running shoe companies were investing in marathon camps in Ethiopia, which had encouraged young athletes to take up the sport.

“My involvement in marathons spurred the younger crop of runners, who find it more attractive because they can train anywhere as opposed to track running,” he said.

“We have only one track stadium in the capital (Addis Ababa) and I fear that there may not be strong track runners from Ethiopia in future if the issue is not addressed.”

Gebrselassie said his next race would be over 10 kms in Manchester on May 17.

“Then I will decide whether to run in the Berlin or Chicago marathon,” he said. “The London Olympics is still very much in mind but I will need to be more serious to compete with these young guys. They are too fast these days.”

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