Monday, April 7, 2014

Bekele smashes Paris record a week before Farah's London Marathon debut

Kenenisa Bekele threw down the gauntlet to Mo Farah by winning the Paris Marathon on his debut at the distance in 2:05.04.

The Ethiopian broke the course record to win comfortably in the French capital on Sunday, just a week before Farah is set to make his much-anticipated marathon debut in London.

It was the sixth-fastest marathon debut of all time and the quickest ever by an athlete over 30 years of age.

Bekele, 31, was the first man to do the ‘double double’ - the quadruple of world and Olympic 5000 metres and 10,000m titles that Farah achieved in his absence in 2012 and 2013 - and also beat the Briton in the Great North Run last September after a long injury lay-off.

The three-time Olympic champion experienced cramp in his hamstring with less than five miles to go in Paris, but still finished in 2:05.04 - significantly quicker than Steve Jones’ 1985 British record of 2:07.13 that Farah is targeting in London next week.

It was an accomplished performance from Bekele, the world 5000m and 10,000m record-holder, who went through the halfway mark in 62mins and nine seconds before making a decisive break to run away from his rivals with eight miles remaining, and sets up the possibility of an intriguing head to head against Farah in London next year.

Bekele said: ‘It was my first marathon and I didn’t have much experience.

‘It was very tough but it was the time I expected.’