Bekele sets sights on Marathon gold in Rio

Sun Dec 14, 2014 7:46am EST
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By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Kenenisa Bekele, world record holder over 5,000 and 10,000 meters, is aiming for Marathon gold at the 2016 Olympics, although the Ethiopian on Sunday said he could yet switch back to a shorter distance at the Rio de Janeiro games.

He may not be a household name like compatriot Haile Gebrselassie or Britain's Mo Farah, but the softly spoken Bekele is one of athletics' true greats, with three Olympic golds and more than a dozen world titles to his name.

Yet for all the accolades, the 32-year-old's determination remains undimmed and he wants to make a similar mark on the marathon.

"There's nothing left for me over 5,000 and 10,000 meters, so the marathon is very important for my career -- it's a new challenge," Bekele told Reuters in Dubai.

"The marathon is a different race -- you have to run a steady pace from the beginning."

Bekele broke the Paris Marathon record on his debut over the distance, clocking 2:05:03 in April, while a time 48 seconds slower at October's Chicago Marathon placed him fourth behind Kenyan trio Eliud Kipchoge, Sammy Kitwara and Dickson Chumba.

He said he aims to run the marathon at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but would see how he fares over the distance before completely ruling out a return to the 10,000 meters, a title he won in 2004 and 2008.

January's Dubai Marathon will be his third 26-miler.   Continued...

Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia crosses the finish line to win the 38th Paris Marathon  in Paris April 6, 2014.   REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes