NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 13- After beating him to the London Marathon title in April this year, Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge is relishing a second duel with Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele and is not afraid to take on a man who ran the second fastest ever time in winning the Berlin Marathon in September.
Bekele, a multiple world and Olympic champion on the track finished third in London, having just come back to action after being out for close to 11 months with an Achilles tendon injury and indicating he was only 90% fit.
His 2:03:03 time in Berlin showed a glimpse of what to expect of him and he indicated the new season will be even bigger.
The two might duel at the World Athletics Championships in August and the 32-year old Kipchoge is already bracing for any kind of battle.
“Maybe, maybe not,” the Olympic champion said when asked whether they will duel with Kipchoge. “But if it will happen I will accept everything that comes with it. If I lose, I will accept. That is what makes the sport enjoyable,” Kipchoge offered.
But he adds a twist, saying he believes he is the best and will fight tooth and nail to prove the same.
“During my youth, 13 years ago when I was starting out I was advised by my coach that I should treat myself as the best one. I don’t see anybody as a threat; I treat myself as the best one,” a confident Kipchoge said.
Though he is coy on his plans for 2017, Kipchoge is primed to lead Kenya’s team for the World Championships as he looks to win a second title in the biennial event, having won the 2003 5000m title in Paris.
“I know next season will be very tough for me because there is so much expectation on me. Everyone will be on my neck to perform and that is why I need t work really hard in training. I don’t know what the new season holds but definitely, I will be going for bigger things,”
Meanwhile, the Olympic champion might miss the defense of his London marathon title as he undertakes on an audacious attempt by his sponsors Nike to break the two-hour barrier in a marathon race.
The project, which Nike is calling Breaking2, will involve Kipchoge, two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, and half-marathon world record holder Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea.
Their goal is to run 1:59:59 or faster, a pace of 4:34 per mile. Nobody has come close to that with the current world record being 2:02:57, set by Dennis Kimetto in 2014.
“To run the perfect race, the athletes require the most innovative product. This is a critical pillar of the Breaking2 attempt, and where Nike is able to deliver unrivaled performance benefits. After years of extensive research and development, Breaking2 will debut a system of groundbreaking innovation that has the potential to elevate every runner,” Nike said in a statement.
The venue of the attempt will be announced next year, but all fingers point to the Berlin Marathon whose course has been favorable enough with most of the recent records being broken in the German city.