NAIROBI, Kenya, February 19- As the king of British distance running Mo Farah’s star continues to dazzle, compatriot and world women record holder, Paul Radcliffe is confident the double Olympics and Worlds track champion will leave an imprint at April 13’s London Marathon.
Having been accustomed to the unrelenting gaze, inquiry and massive following from the sports mad country, Radcliffe who passed on the spotlight to Farah, knows best the immense pressure to deliver placed on his shoulders when he makes his full marathon debut.
The million dollar question is can Farah once again rule London by upsetting a stellar field that includes among others record holder, Wilson Kipsang (Kenya), Olympics and world champion, Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), defending champion, Tsegay Kebede (Ethiopia) and course record holder, Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya).
“Whenever they (Londoners/Britons) see Mo race they expect him to win, it’s a very high expectation. Without any doubt he is going to go in, going to run fast and he is going to run really well
“It’s a high quality field he is up against, I don’t doubt he will run his absolute best and he will be up there,” Radcliffe who holds the 2:15:25 world record for women told.
Prodded further on whether Farah can apply the icing on his hugely anticipated debut with what even he ranks would be the highlight of a decorated career, Radcliffe is more forthright.
“He is capable of it but there are many capable of that this year since it’s a very high standard field. It’s a very difficult question to ask when you are making your debut because nobody really knows until they run the marathon distance.
“They do not know how they are going to cope and react in the last 10K and how their body is going to hold together. Even Mo himself will not know that, he will have a good idea in training its best to sit back and enjoy the show but I know he will do well,” Radcliffe who is also training in Iten like Farah underscores.
Now past 40, the mother of two is weighing whether to have her swansong at the distance where she distinguished herself in winning six out seven marathons ran and set a record in five.
Radcliffe has four of the fastest five times in history having bagged London, New York, Chicago and World Championships crowns to break the African monotony in the past decade.
“I don’t know it’s late in my career for that. I’m already 40 and have a lot of races behind me I would maybe like to come back and do one more race and finish on. I really have to see how my foot can cope because the marathon distance on road is a lot to ask,” the 2005 world champion underlined.
Her standard is one of the records in athletics where most pundits agree it will stand the test of time as it prepares to mark its tenth anniversary in April in London.
Organisers of the event have nonetheless drawn a tough field capable of attempting to breach it including Kenyan duo of defending champion, Priscah Jeptoo who recently won the Ras Al Khaimah Half and Berlin champion, Florence Kiplagat who smashed the half marathon world record last weekend in Barcelona.
“I hope so obviously it will survive, but records are there to be broken and the talent on the field is capable of doing that, so we have to see,” she told on the possibility of the class of London 2014 breaching her mark.
The imposing London elite women’s line-up also includes Olympics champion, Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia), two-time world champion, Edna Kiplagat and another sparkling debut prospect in the shape of multiple Olympics and Worlds track queen, Tirunesh Dibaba also of Ethiopia breaching her record.
Despite what most analysts believe, Radcliffe dispels the notion she set the bar beyond the reach of fellow mortals in a race assisted by men during the 2003 London race.
“I don’t know, is the answer I worked very hard to make the record that day, as fast fastest I could go that day in the hope it would stand for as long as possible
“That is what I hope but I understand everybody is capable of training equally hard and surpassing it.”
“The 2:15:25 but to actually to win the World Cross in 2001 because it took a long time, seconds thirds and fourth before it came together is very special to me,” she tells.
Radcliffe was among global running stars involved in the Lornah Kiplagat Sports Academy in Iten that opened the first tartan outside Kenya’s capital Nairobi earlier this month.
She will be among the beneficiaries of the facility since she is camped at the Lornah Kiplagat High Altitude Training Centre in the same northern Kenyan town famed for being the self styled University of Champions.
“I cannot take any credit for the initiative. That has been the had work of Lorna, Peter her husband and the London Marathon group, they have put a lot of investment financially and a lot of effort in bringing this about
“It’s a great facility and good testament to the hard work they have done and the work they have put in,” Radclife explained.
The academy was funded by grants from the Virgin Money London Marathon in a partnership that also incorporates the British Olympics Association and the Lornah Kiplagat Foundation established by the Kenyan born Dutch former world half marathon record holder of the name.
“I think it’s very important for the town of Iten and local athletes to have this facility. It’s an amazing opportunity to put the final touches to a training environment that is outstanding in many ways and it now has a track as well,” Radcliffe added on the training complex that will see British and Kenyan athletes train for future major events.
She concludes by stating what it would take for budding runners keen on emulating her example from the UK and her adopted home of Kenya.
“I think it’s essentially having the physical talent for the distance but also to be able to absorb the amount of training you need to do.
“It’s making sure you find the people with talent to apply themselves in training and put the work in and the mentally want to attack the distance and they should be given enough support.”