King of distance running Kenesisa Bekele’s kitty is full of medals and world records but the three-time Olympic gold medallist in the 10,000 and 5000m says he will now aim for the marathon record before bidding adieu to an illustrious career.
“I am 35 now and close to retiring but I think there is a lot of potential left in me. My plan is to break the marathon record before I retire. I still have the capacity to run faster and with better times,” Bekele said on Friday.
Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto holds the world marathon record for men with a time of 2 hours 2 minutes and 57 seconds, set at the 2014 Berlin Marathon while in 2014 Bekele made his marathon debut in Paris winning with a time of 2:05:03.
Two years later he shaved two minutes off his personal best by setting a new Ethiopian record of 2:03:03 at the Berlin Marathon.
He is recuperating from a hamstring injury but is confident of coming up with “something good” at the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K on Sunday.
“It was a difficult year for me. I was down with injury but now I am feeling better. The 25k run is new to me but I love to experiment with new things. It (25k) is not as tough as the marathon,” said the three time Olympic champion, who reached here on Friday morning.
“I am tired now but after a good night sleep I will ready to rock here. I will be a new course for me but I love running in warm condition.”
Bekele, who idolises the legendary Haile Gebrselassie, said the amount of money he would get from the Kolkata run will support him in training and fulfilling his dreams. “Gebrselassie’s advice has always helped me.”
Bekele has won over 21 Olympic and world champion titles and has set six world records in a glittering career of more than eight years. He is the first and so far the only athlete to be world indoor, outdoor, cross and Olympic champion. He is also targeting the 2020 Olympics.
“My target is not only the world record, but also participation in Tokyo. With my age, it is challenging. I need to be fit and healthy for it.”
‘Trained hard for 25K run’
Kenya’s Helah Kiprop is not new to the country. She finished fourth at the Delhi Half Marathon in November but wants to do better here.
Apart from Delhi, the mother of three is also a regular at the Bangalore 10K event.
Kiprop and country-mate Valentine Kiketer will lead the charge in the women’s elite section.