Today, I obviously was not happy, also if athletes of my training group with Gianni Demadonna management (followed by Gemedu Deguefo and Gebehyu Behrane using my training plan) did very well, winning both the races, with the surprise of Lemmi Hayle (that before the race we told Gianni could be able running in 2:05, looking at his training from October) and the big come back of Aselefech Mergia, stronger than 3 years ago after the motherhood. In the women race, we had also the opportunity to see a very fast debut from Demisse Shure, daily in training with Aselefech and able to do the same workouts, but in any case better than the previews, because nobody of us could think of a time under 2:21 while junior in her first attempt. Aberu Kebede, 5th at the end, confirmed her continuity, but today found somebody strongest than her.
Under the side of Gianni Demadonna, it was a big day, with all the top 5 among women (also Gladys Cherono, World Half Marathon Champion, runner up, and Lucy Kabuu, having a fast come-back at top level after 3 years, are with the Italian Manager) and the winner among men (who previously had one competition in full marathon only, winning last year in Zurich with 2:10:40) are under his management.
In Ethiopia, I have two coaches working together following Demadonna’s athletes and applying my training plans : Gemedu Deguefo , and was the one recruiting the athletes and building a local activity able to produce winners in Dubai in both women (Mergia 2012 and this year) and men (Tsegaye Mekonnen in 2014 and Lemmi Hayle this year) with very important performances. Another important person in Gebehyu Berihun , who always follows the athletes in training. They send me weekly reports about the athlete’s training, and I provide to send the training plan, every two weeks.
Sometimes, we can see some surprise. Last year Tsegaye Mekonnen joined this group in October, after few HM competitions slower than 62’, but this was because his training was very casual. The boy showed his talent, and was asked to give training plan for a goal of 2:07. In November, the target became 2:06, in December 2:05, in Dubai he won with 2:04:32…..
This year, we had the same situation with Lemmi Hayle. the boy was growing every week, and we modified his plan, with a final goal to run 2:05. So, don’t be too much surprised if athletes without any real background are able to run very fast in Dubai : there are plenty Ethiopian running at medium level with poor training, and the most important thing is to be able to find among them who has real talent.
But I can’t be totally happy because my first goal was to see the race and the behavior of Kenenisa Bekele.
How I told yesterday in some interview, his preparation after Chicago faced several problems, the main being an Achille’s tendon pain which obliged Kenenisa to reduce training for about two weeks in November, and was cured using TECAR machine for one week of full immersion between 17 and 24 December, with the best operator of the Company. In spite of these problems, the shape of Kenenisa grew continuously, and the last workout, exactly one week ago, was really good.
Also if, in my opinion, what he did is no more than 60% of the total training for a marathon, I was confident in a time under 2:05, and never I had some doubt he couldn’t win the race.
But today he didn’t feel good from the start. Several times I saw him running, and his action didn’t have the relaxation and the total body control which are one of the best qualities for Kenenisa.
After 28 km, Jos Hermens (on a motorbike of the organization) came to me (I was on the car of the chief of the Jury) telling me “the pace is slow, Kenenisa seems very fresh, what he has to do ?”, and I told him “tell him to push after 30 km, looking at the Race Record of Ayele Abshero”.
Never words were less prophetic : after one km, Kenenisa started to struggle, limping a little, and losing contact
with the leading group, which continued running at a pace not really fast.
Problems at both his hamstrings, he told me after the race, probably provoked by the big tension he had from the start, when understood the pain in his tendon could not disappear after few minutes (such as during the last training sessions), but instead was growing of intensity. This tension, it’s my thought, caused carmps and soreness to both the hamstrings, and he couldn’t continue the race.
The fact he dropped out doesn’t change my opinion he can be the next top marathon runner in the world.
I was with him in training for the last two month, many times following him personally around Addis Ababa, and could build in my mind an idea of his possibilities. His engine is still the most powerful in the World, and, when the body is ok, his ability to relax himself and to control his body is absolutely superior to the same ability of every other runner I know. He doesn’t have problems of fuelling, and of course no problems of personality in the race.
But it’s a fact that at the moment he doesn’t have his full efficiency. How I told him after the race, “an injured or sick athlete doesn’t exist : he’s one injured or sick man, and the first step is to concentrate all the energies for becoming a fit and healthy man. Only after this first step, he can look for becoming an athlete again”.
We are now exactly in this position. The next step of Kenenisa is to look seriously at the way for solving his tendon problem, which was not present in Paris and in Chicago, but started at the beginning of November.
So, at the moment can be useless to speak about future plans, because there is one plan only, and is to find the right way for recovering the full efficiency.
After this, I have no doubt Kenenisa can become the number one in the longest Olympic event, too.