Kenenisa Bekele eyes glory in Dubai debut

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Kenenisa Bekele eyes glory in Dubai debut

The organisers of the world’s richest marathon will also see Bekele, three-time Olympic gold medallist signing up as the Ambassador of the Dubai Holding Wellness Programme that is associated with the event.

By Kt Report

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Published: Fri 16 Jan 2015, 11:58 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:47 PM

Bekele has won 16 World Championship titles. — Supplied photo

Bekele has won 16 World Championship titles. — Supplied photo

Dubai: Ethiopian Olympic legend Kenenisa Bekele will make his debut at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, on January 23 – starting time 7am opposite the Police Training College in Jumeirah.

The organisers of the world’s richest marathon will also see Bekele, three-time Olympic gold medallist signing up as the Ambassador of the Dubai Holding Wellness Programme that is associated with the event. The running genius has been in high performance training in Addis Ababa, his home city, under the watchful eyes of renowned coach Renato Canova for the Dubai leg of the world series of runs.

“There will be at least 10 to 15 athletes to watch,” Bekele said. “My fellow Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa has already won both the Boston Marathon and the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon so he has shown himself to be a very strong athlete with great experience in marathons.”

Although the Dubai race will be only the third marathon on Bekele’s career profile, his reputation and achievements means the eyes of the athletics world will be on him when he adds the flat course of Dubai to his two marathon experiences of Paris and Chicago, a communique from the organisers said. In Paris, he won on his marathon debut with a course record and current personal best of 2hr:05min:04sec – a time that would have taken second place in the 2014 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.

“I just want to go step-by-step in my marathon career,” he added. “Dubai will be a very important race for me in terms of my personal best and I have already learned from racing in Paris and Chicago. But despite my achievements on the track and cross-country, I still have relatively little experience at the marathon distance.”

Despite that relative inexperience, thousands are expected to line the route to cheer on one of the greatest sportsmen of all time in an event held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council.

The 32 year-old has spent around four hours a day working on a mixture of training methods with coach Canova sprinkling the programme with endurance work and a running split of 80 per cent road and forest running, 10 per cent fitness and 10 per cent strength.

“I’ve certainly worked hard with no time off during the year-end holiday period,” said Bekele, a man with 16 World Championship titles to his name. “I’m definitely ready for Dubai and looking forward to seeing everyone at the start line. I’ve heard so much about the course and the conditions – now is the time to see it for myself.”

As well as those along the famous 42.195km route, organisers expect the grandstands to be packed from the early hours as running fans – especially those from Ethiopia – gather to show their respect for an athlete that is to distance running what Usain Bolt is to sprinting. “I expect the grandstands to be full of singing Ethiopian fans by the time the runners take to the course at 7am,” said event director Peter Connerton.

“It’s an incredible field with more than 20 men who have all run under 2:10 for the marathon. Bekele has already had a better start to his marathon career than other legends who have made the step up – including Paul Tergat and our three-time winner Haile Gebrselassie – so his participation here in Dubai has really caught the sport’s attention.”

With an incredible legacy behind him and the kind of finishing speed at the end of a track race that ensures he remains a world record holder at both 5,000m and 10,000m, Bekele is sure of a hero’s welcome in Dubai next week.

In addition to Standard Chartered as title sponsor, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is supported by the Dubai Sports Council, adidas, Dubai Eye 103.8FM, Masafi, Dubai Holding, Dubai Police and the RTA among others.



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