Kolkata, Ethiopian long-distance runner Kenenisa Bekele, who holds the world and Olympic records for both the 5,000 and 10,000 metre events, on Friday said he aims to be the best in marathon before he calls it a day.
“My plan is to break that record before I retire. I want to break marathon record before I retire. So of course, my time is second best in the world this time (Berlin marathon 2016) but still you know I have capacity to run faster and in better time,” Bekele, 35, told reporters at the TSK 25K Kolkata marathon where he is taking part for the first time.
In the 2016 Berlin marathon, Bekele missed the world record time of 2:02:57 set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto by six seconds. Kimetto set the record in Berlin, 2014.
“Before the race I could not expect to run that close to world record. But just after I finished the race I was disappointed a lot because I had the capacity to do that record. I could not plan to do that,” Bekele said of the 2016 race where he fiercely fought with former world record holder Wilson Kipsang who finished in 2:03:13, a personal best that’s 10 seconds faster than the world mark he set in Berlin in 2013.
Bekele’s timing in the 2016 Berlin marathon was 02:03:03.
A legend in track and field, Bekele has a drawer full of medals including over 21 Olympic and World Championship titles. He broke six senior world records in a front line career spanning more than eight years.
Bekele won gold at the 10,000m in four straight World Championships.
In 2014, he made his marathon debut in Paris winning in 2:05:03.
Asked how he keeps himself motivated after winning so many medals, Bekele said “I cannot run just for my feeling, there is money supporters behind me. People also encourage me to run and represent my country. All that is keeping me motivated every time. I am happy to be best in every races.”
Bekele also said that training nowadays is sometimes painful.
“Sometimes I don’t enjoy training. Everyday running hard, waking up early morning and running twice a day is not easy. It’s hard work. I am not really close to retiring so I have to do it now.”
Bekele also said he is looking forward to meeting highly rated British distance runner Mo Farah on the road with the latter indicating his intention to switch wholly to road racing following his victory at his final track race, the 2017 IAAF Diamond League 5000 metres final.
“The time I was injured (in 2009), Mo became a strong athlete. I wished I could join him fully fit during that time in track race. It could have been good competition. I am happy now he will join marathon and I am sure we will run against each other,” Bekele said. In 2013, he returned to action after that injury layover from 2009.
Bekele, who is blessed with three children and runs a hotel business back home where 5-6 Indians work with him, set himself a target of “around one hour twelve minutes” in the 25k run. Kenya’s Kimetto holds the 25k world record with 1 hr 11 minutes 18 seconds.
Bekele signed off by saying his inspiration has been legendary long-distance track and road running athlete Haile Gebrselassie.
“Haile is my role model before I start running, I used to watch him running in Olympics and World Championships. We are friends and I get advice sometimes from him also. He is a good role model.”