American coach believes Kenenisa Bekele is the No.1 distance runner in history due to his huge number of global titles and “awfully fast” world records
Alberto Salazar says Kenenisa Bekele is the greatest distance runner in history and Mo Farah has a massive challenge if he wants to break Bekele’s “incredible” world records for 5000m and 10,000m.
In December the BBC quoted Salazar as saying he thought Farah was the greatest distance runner of all time. But in an interview in the latest issue of Athletics Weekly, the American coach says his words were taken slightly out of context.
Speaking to David Cox for AW, Salazar explained: “I was asked about how I thought he compared to others in history and I said that I thought what he did (in London) is as good as what anybody else has done. Because other people have won those events (the 5000m and 10,000m at the Olympics), but Mo has done it in an era where it’s much more competitive to 20 or 30 years ago.”
Salazar added: “But Bekele did it four years ago (in Beijing) and obviously he’s won a lot more world championships. I would argue that Bekele is probably the greatest distance runner of all time. If had to pick somebody I would pick him. I don’t know if right now there’s anybody that’s as good as he was at his best.”
In order to rival Bekele in the echelons of great distance runners, Farah would almost certainly have to break the legendary Ethiopian’s world records of 12:37.35 for 5000m and 26:17.53 for 10,000m.
“Those times are awfully fast,” Salazar says. “I think that the 5km is more reachable right now than the 10km because there just aren’t very many opportunities to do 10km. The 5km, there’s a lot of good races and I believe that Mo was certainly capable of challenging it last year.
“There are some Ethiopians who ran 12:48 and he’s definitely capable of running that. From there it’s another 10 seconds. You know that, it’s possible but to be honest we don’t really dwell on that or point at that. It would be so hard. Those times are just pretty incredible.”
“We concentrate on just beating the people that are running against him and try not to get too focused on times because when you start doing that, you forget about just trying to beat the people that you need to beat.”
In an interview that touched on various topics in the April 11 issue of AW, Salazar also spoke in detail about Farah’s controversial decision to run the first half of the Virgin London Marathon on April 21, his racing strategy ahead of the 2016 Olympics, plus details about how Farah will actually train prior to his full 26.2-mile debut.