Athletics: All eyes on Kenenisa Bekele as he makes marathon debut in Paris

Ethiopian running great Kenenisa Bekele says he is in shape and hopeful for a win ahead of his hotly-awaited marathon debut on the streets of Paris on Sunday. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Ethiopian running great Kenenisa Bekele says he is in shape and hopeful for a win ahead of his hotly-awaited marathon debut on the streets of Paris on Sunday. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AFP) - Ethiopian running great Kenenisa Bekele says he is in shape and hopeful for a win ahead of his hotly-awaited marathon debut on the streets of Paris on Sunday.

The double world record-holder in 5,000m and 10,000m will be the star draw at the Paris marathon, as all eyes will be on him to see how he manages the leap from track superstardom to the ultimate distance.

"I have a good chance to win because I prepared well. I will run to win, I cannot expect myself to lose," he said. "I can't sit, I can't sleep... it's the race."

After an illustrious career in shorter distances, the 31 year-old is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Ethiopian "emperor" Haile Gebreselassie, who made a successful leap from the track to the marathon.

Bekele said his training volume peaked at 240km a week, all of it at high altitude at his training base in the hills outside Addis Ababa. He admitted though that he found the higher volume of training for a marathon was at times "boring".

Now tapering his training for the big day, he said he was just running easy and mixing in some shorter track sessions.

Bekele has made a stunning comeback from a debilitating calf injury which kept him out of competition for nearly three years.

In September, he defeated Gebreselassie and his track rival Mo Farah in his comeback race at the Great North run - his half marathon debut - out-kicking Farah in the dramatic final stretch of the 21.1km race.

Farah will be making his own marathon debut in London a week after the Paris race, but Bekele has opted not to go head to head with him in the London marathon, where the competition is likely to be far more intense because of the presence of a strong Kenyan contingent.

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