Friday, January 6, 2012

Catch me if you can, Makau tells marathon pursuers

Patrick Makau of Kenya celebrates after winning the 38th Berlin Marathon on September 25, 2011 in Berlin. Photo/AFP

Patrick Makau of Kenya celebrates after winning the 38th Berlin Marathon on September 25, 2011 in Berlin. Photo/AFP 

By AYUMBA AYODI sayodi@ke.nationmedia.com

Renato Canova is one of the world’s best marathon coaches.

The Italian, who considers Iten his second home, is largely responsible for getting Abel Kirui into the shape that saw him retain his world title in Daegu last summer.

Previously in charge of the Italian national team, the silver-haired Canova also sharpened the man many consider to be the next world marathon record holder, Moses Mosop, along with Berlin Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat.

Not world record compliant

Last year, Mosop clocked the second fastest marathon time of two hours, three minutes and six seconds in finishing second behind Geoffrey Mutai in a historic Boston Marathon.

Unfortunately, the Boston course is not world record-compliant and Mutai’s amazing winning time of 2:03.02 counted for nothing.

Mosop went on to break world record in the 25,000 metres (1:12:25.4) and 30,000m (1:26:47.4) in Eugene.

Now, Canova’s New Year’s Eve comments that Patrick Makau’s official world record of 2:03.38 will fall in the spring have drawn interesting reactions, with Makau reading malice into the Italian’s predictions.

Canova tipped Mosop

“What I am sure is that next year (this year) after the London Marathon, the record will be no more Patrick Makau’s, and the record is under 2:03,” Canova, donning his trademark dark glasses, told Italian blogger Alberto Stretti in a video interview while in Bolzano for the Boclassic road race on December 31 last year.

Canova tipped Mosop, who will run in April’s Rotterdam Marathon, to shatter Makau’s mark.

And if he fails, the Italian says Wilson Kipsang (2:03.42 in Frankfurt last year) or Emmanuel Mutai (2:04:40 in London last year) will break it.

But speaking to Saturday Nation on Thursday night, Makau told his rivals to concentrate on training rather than dream about beating his record.

Makau read malice into comments being made about the longevity, or lack of it, of his record, saying this threatens to drive Kenya’s bid to retain the fallen Samuel Wanjiru’s Olympic marathon record in London this summer.

Makau says many people are not happy with his record. “It makes me wonder if the record is a preserve for some region, tribe or runners,” Makau said. “What shocks me is that some people are speaking ill of me just because I broke the world record.”

Makau, 26, urged some of his colleagues to refrain from behaving like politicians and as though the record was a matter of life and death.

“Let us embrace the spirit of competition and know we are children of the same mother which is Kenya,” said Makau.

He cautioned that Kenya’s rivals would take advantage of the bickering, envy and bad blood between Kenya’s athletes to ruin the country’s chances at the Olympics.

“The rest of the world will despise us just because of some minor things,” said Makau.

Makau obliterated a strong field, that included record holder Haile Gebrselassie to win the Berlin Marathon in a world record 2:03:38, erasing the Ethiopian’s record by 21 seconds.

“When I left for Berlin, nobody predicted I would break the world record. All eyes were on the previous holder, bettering his own time but I thank God for what happened in the end.”

He said he managed the feat for Kenya and everyone who loved the sport.

“It was everyone’s desire for the record to come back to where it belonged and I will be more than happy if a fellow Kenyan is to improve on my record. Let us not talk much but redeploy our energies on good training and skills that will power our legs to do the talking,” said Makau.

Makau said they should be more vigilant on what he called the wrong avenue that some coaches and managers are taking them.

“Most of them have vested interests and are agents of athletes some countries that don’t want Kenyans to excel especially after ruling dominating all the major races including the World Championships.

“We should open our eyes and be bright enough to notice that this is happening just before London Marathon and the Olympic Games,” said Makau.

Makau urged his colleagues to give the Beijing Olympic Games marathon champion, the late Samuel Wanjiru, a proper send-off by retaining the title on his behalf.

Makau said Kenya have the best chances of another podium sweep at the Olympic Games.

“We won all the individual and World Cup titles in Daegu a feat that was spiced up with victories in London, Berlin, New York, Chicago, Boston.

“What can really stop us?” posed Makau.

Makau, who has pitched his training camp in Ngong said he is preparing for the London Marathon due April 22 before focusing on the London Olympic Games where as per the tradition, marathon will be the last event on August 12.

Makau wound third at last year’s London Marathon in 2:05:45 where his compatriot Emmanuel Mutai triumphed in a new course record time of 2:04:40, beating the previous best of 2:05.10 set by Samuel Wanjiru in 2009.

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