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Leul Gebreslassie

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19-04-2024
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Pre-race quotes – Elite men

The leading men’s contenders assess their prospects ahead of the 2024 TCS London Marathon 

Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 

On racing the London Marathon for a sixth time at the age of 41: 

“I’m very happy to be back here again. It’s been a long career for me. I’ve been running since 1999, almost 25 years, so it’s really not a short time in any sport. 

“But I’m still happy to be running and I enjoy it a lot. The secret is hard work and trying to be on the top every time. 

“I am motivated by my training group who are always behind me and supporting me on my journey.” 

On what time he’s aiming to run the first half: 

“In London the first half is very fast because of the pacemakers so I will have to see. If I can run with the leaders it will be fast, but I’ll have to see what happens. 

“The best athletes will follow the pace but for me I’ll listen to my body and check how I feel in the conditions. Then we’ll see.” 

On whether his training has changed as he’s grown older: 

“I’m doing the same training I always did but because of injures I sometimes can’t follow the programme. The system is the same. I still do more than 200K a week and then some speed workouts, easy jogging too, just as usual.” 

On the death of last year’s champion, Kelvin Kiptum: 

“Of course, he is greatly missed. I was very sorry about what happened to him. Even in his short time in the sport he set such an amazing history. And of course he has the course record here. We all remember him. He’s in all our hearts.” 

On his hopes of Olympic selection: 

“The big goal is to qualify for the Olympics but if not it doesn’t matter too much. I’ve been to many Olympics. I will do my best to qualify, of course, but all the athletes here are good so it’s going to be a big challenge. 

“If I win here I will qualify but if I just perform well I’ll be happy. If there’s a chance for me to win in London, that would be really amazing.” 

Tamirat Tola (ETH) 

On his hopes of adding a London Marathon victory to his New York City Marathon title: 

“I worked very hard to prepare well for New York and I’ve trained well again for London. My training was OK and my body is good so I’m ready. We’ll see on Sunday. 

“London is not easy but I worked hard to win in New York and my training has all been OK so I’m ready. All went well. I did what the coach wanted me to do and I’m ready to win.” 

On whether he’ll be chasing a fast time or victory on Sunday: 

“If we run together and help each other then it will be a better chance of a fast time, I think. It depends on the pacemaker but for me a fast pace will be good, maybe 61 [minutes], or even 60:50.” 

On the death of last year’s champion, Kelvin Kiptum: 

“It was very bad news for athletics. He did three marathons but was so fast. It is painful for all athletes to lose him.” 

On his hopes of Olympic selection: 

“I hope to be selected but it depends on Sunday’s race. After that we’ll know. I’ve trained hard for it but it depends on the federation. Maybe if I’m on the podium again I will get it.” 

Leul Gebresilase (ETH) 

On his preparations for London after taking marathon bronze at the 2023 World Championships: 

“After the World Championships I was very tired but now I’ve had time to prepare well for this race. My training has been very good and I’m ready to do well. Sunday will be a good competition.” 

On the death of last year’s champion, Kelvin Kiptum: 

“The news was very sad for all the world. The future was very bright for him, so it’s sad to lose him so young.” 

On his hopes of Olympic selection: 

“One hundred per cent the marathon Sunday is what’s important for selection. But first I must think about the competition here. That’s the focus.” 

Emile Cairess (GBR) 

On training for his second London Marathon:

“Preparation has gone well. I’ve done everything I wanted to do in training so I’m hoping to do well and progress from last year. The goal is to make progress bit by bit so I can get near to the front of these big races.”

On what he learned from last year’s race:

“I learned a lot, but the main thing was about having patience – even when you feel good at 30K.

“This time I have a full year of marathon training behind me, rather than just 12 weeks, so I’m happy to show what I’ve got at the weekend.”

On his hopes of joining training partner Phil Sesemann on the GB Olympic team:

“It was great to see him run 2:08:04 [and make the team]. I’ve been training with him for nine years so I knew we were both in good shape.

“It’s inspiring. And to go with him to Paris would be really special.”

On whether he’ll wear a Casio stopwatch during the race:

“I will. In London there are kilometre and mile markers everywhere so all you need is a stopwatch to check your time. It’s more accurate than using a GPS watch when you might lose the signal anyway.”

On the chances of breaking Mo Farah’s British record of 2:05:11:

“I have that time in mind. It’s something I definitely want to do in the near future, but not this weekend.” 

Callum Hawkins (GBR) 

On his injury problems over the last few years:

“The last few years have been pretty tough, since 2020. After the Tokyo Olympics I had surgery on my ankle, and since then it’s been stress reaction after stress reaction.

“Even preparation for this has not been plain sailing. I was injured at the end of last year and then broke a collarbone, so I’m just happy to be on the Start Line.”

On his goals for Sunday’s race:

“My aim now is just to go out and enjoy it, to enjoy being fit and able to run because it feels like a miracle.

“If it was up to me I wouldn’t even wear a watch. I’d go out and run on feeling, without worrying about time. Just go and enjoy it.

“The Olympics is definitely not my focus at the moment. I just want to see what I can do.

“Success on Sunday would be to go out at the right pace, and hope not to die; to be strong and finish.”

On what keeps him going despite the ups and downs:

“I think all elite athletes have an ability to forget and move on. It’s a bit of a superpower but it’s also a curse because you can forget about the achievements.”

Marc Scott (GBR)

On preparing for his marathon debut: “I’ve had a few ups and downs on my marathon journey so far. But I’m here, I’m happy and I’m healthy.

“It’s been a ride to get here but I’m glad to be on the Start Line and excited to see what happens.”

On what has changed in training to be ready for the marathon:

“The main thing is just an accumulation of mileage. I wasn’t able to tolerate it in the past, so I’ve been slowly building it up. Rather than ramping it up, I’ve slowly built up to 120 miles a week.”

On his goal for Sunday:

“The main goal is definitely to knock out that Olympic standard [of 2:08:10]. British marathon running is going from strength to strength so hopefully we can get another two on the qualifying list on Sunday.

“It was great to see Phil [Sesemann] get that time. I hope we can emulate it and have the same success.”

On how he’s feeling ahead of his first marathon:

“It is nerve-wracking because it’s an unknown for me, it’s a new distance. I’ve prepared well and believe I’m in shape but that doesn’t take away the nerves.”

On the chances of breaking Mo Farah’s British record:

“Marathon running is improving in Britain so there’s no reason why we can’t get it in the near future.”