Bekele tastes victory in marathon debut
Bekele tastes victory in marathon debut
The 31-year-old 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder crossed the line in an event record time of 2hr 5min 04secs after negotiating a sunbathed course of 42.195km (26.22 miles) through the streets of the French capital.
The previous Paris record was held by Kenya’s Stanley Wiwott who clocked 2hr 05:10 in 2012.
Fellow Ethiopian Limenih Getachew came home second at 2hr 06.49secs with Luka Kanda of Kenya, the 2012 Rome winner, claiming the final spot on the podium crossing the line in 2hr 08.02.
“It was my first marathon and I didn’t have much experience,” said Bekele, the triple Olympic champion.
“It was very tough but it was the time I expected. After 25km I pushed alone but it was very tough.” added
“Now, I know the marathon, I can run faster than that but I have to prepare even more. I’m sure I can run a better time than that. I still have time in my career to do better but I am satisfied.”
Bekele emulated his great compatriot Haile Gebrselassie who also made a successful step from the track to marathon and has the third fastest time in history.
Bekele made his move with about 25km to run and opened up a lead that may have been even more significant had he not struggled with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.
“The hamstring wasn’t good after 25km. It was cramping but it’s ok. I’ll feel it more in the morning,” explained Bekele.
He missed out on the world record which is held by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang who set a mark of 2hr 3min 23secs in 2013 at Berlin.
“At 5km from the finish, my hamstring cramped up again and I couldn’t accelerate. I think in the future, I’ll do better but it’s very positive.”
“Yes, the world record is a possibility and a possibility if I can prepare for a longer time. For this marathon, I only had three months of training and that is not enough.
“After the 5000 and 10,000m, you have to train differently and longer to adapt to the change of rhythm. I am sure for my second marathon, I will do better and can perhaps attack the world record.
“Now, Im going to return a bit to the track, the 10,000m, run a few times and after I will decide what I’m going to do. I think there’s a good possibility that I’ll run another marathon in the autumn.
In the women’s race, Kenya’s Flomena Cheyech dominated proceedings, winning in a time of 2hr 22:44secs as she turned in a confident showing with Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese second at 2hr 26:21.
A second Ethiopian, Ahmed Zemzem claimed third spot in 2hr 29.35.
“I’m very happy, the course was good,” said a delighted Cheyech.
“I wasn’t that fast but in the middle of the race, I felt confident and just told myself to keep running,” she added.
The victory for five-time world champion Bekele, who dominated the 5,000m and 10,000m for the best part of a decade, caps a stunning comeback from a debilitating calf injury which kept him out of competition for nearly three years.
Last September, he defeated Gebrselassie and his track rival Mo Farah in his comeback race at the Great North run in England — his half marathon debut — outkicking Farah in a sprint for the line.
Britain’s Farah, who emulated Bekele when he won Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m gold at the 2012 London Games, makes his own marathon debut in London next week, but Bekele has opted not to go head to head with him in the English capital.
“Of course I’m going to watch the London marathon because I love to watch other races, marathon or not. I’m a marathon runner now,” concluded Bekele.
Work still to be done for Egypt's Al-Ahly in quest for African Champions League glory
- The Egyptian giants took a step closer to a ninth continental title
- Attention immediately changed to the first leg against Setif in Cairo on Oct. 2
CAIRO: Al-Ahly coach Patrice Carteron has warned his players against complacency in their forthcoming African Champions League semifinal clash against Setif of Algeria, even though his side swept through with a 4-0 quarterfinal second-leg victory over Guinea’s Horoya in Cairo on Saturday.
The Egyptian giants took a step closer to a ninth continental title with the win against the Guineans after a goalless first leg. From the moment Walid Soliman opened the scoring after 32 minutes at the Al-Salam Stadium, the result was never in doubt as the Reds put in a dominant performance.
Second half goals from Islam Mohareb, Salah Mohsen and Ahmed Fathy confirmed the win.
“It was a good performance, especially as the pitch was poor,” Carteron said. “We are happy to go through but we controlled the game, especially in the second half when we were at our best. We adjusted our offensive strategy at the break and that made a difference.”
Attention immediately changed to the first leg against Setif in Cairo on Oct. 2.
“We know that the game will be very tough as Setif are a strong team but this is the semifinal of the Champions League, you know that any game is going to be tough,” added the Frenchman.
Setif defeated defending champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 1-0 on aggregate and will host Al-Ahly in Algeria in the second leg on Oct. 23.
“Setif were the champions in 2014 and we know that we are going to have be at our best if we are going to the final,” said the 48 year-old, who also coached TP Mazembe of Congo to the 2015 title. He is aiming to deliver similar success for Al-Ahly, who last lifted the trophy in 2013.
“When I took the job three months ago, the target was clear: to win the Champions League. That is still the objective and we have taken a big step toward that today.
“Standards in the competition are getting better all the time and results in the quarterfinal show this,” Carteron said, adding that he and his players had taken note of how Mazembe had been knocked out at the last-eight stage.
“Now we are in the semifinal and we have to prepare as well as we can to face Setif. It will be a big challenge but we are looking forward to it.”
Setif reached the semifinal after a 0-0 draw in the second leg in Morocco on Friday to take the tie 1-0 on aggregate following a win on Algerian soil a week earlier.
Goalkeeper Moustapha Zeghba was the star of the show in Casablanca and made a number of fine saves to deny the defending champions.
It was a feather in the cap for coach Rachid Taoussi, a Moroccan who coached Wydad from 2002 to 2003.
“We managed this game very well,” Taoussi said. “We withstood the pressure. It is not easy to keep out such a team, especially with their fans behind them. In the end they had to play long balls and that made it easier for us to defend.”
While Morocco may have lost its sole representative left in the competition, Taoussi is flying the flag for his homeland. “I am proud to be Moroccan. I respect Wydad and the supporters a lot. It’s not easy for anyone to come here and play like we did.
“It is also a demonstration for those who constantly criticize the skills of Moroccan coaches. I’m so happy. That said, the most important thing for us now is to think about going even further in this competition, that is, reaching the final. We have one more step to go; we will give everything until the end.”
The other semifinal sees a third North African team trying to reach the showpiece event as Esperance de Tunis take on Clube Desportivo de Agosto of Angola.