Renato Canova: What Bekele is in the marathon.

<I had the opportunity (and the fortune) to work with Kenenisa after Chicago 2014, till Dubai 2015. In spite of his physical problems, he was able to train with good continuity, even if with a volume far from an optimal volume for a top marathon, in fact in Dubai he was able to run under 2:04 but only a new injoury could stop him from running under that time. (...)
What he did in London Marathon was unbelievable: he ran 2:06 (1:27:23 the first 30km) with less than two months of specific training, after 11 months without any running activity. This means that he can have big chances for running 2:02, if his body structure can stay under control, and there are not injuries. (...)
When I worked with him, I discovered a person of great heart, very kind and friendly, with top personality and very deep values, and frankly: I found immediately a strong feeling with him as person. (...) These athletes have a strong presonality and so much confidence in themselves and they don't want to lose. This happened also today when after 28km he seemed to struggle a little, when Wilson launched the first attack; (...) but kenenisa, who never had good finals in the marathon previously run, every time he was able to fill the gap using an even pace, this was an injection of confidence for the ability to run all the marathon at high level, in fact he finished the last 2195m in 6:08. (...)
All my admiration, my respect and my friendship for athletes, and men like them, that can maintein the values (also moral) of athletics at the highest level.
Every time you can work with an athlete of amazing level, you can learn something; in the case of Kenenisa, I teached him something new about training (...) and I learned again something exclusive about psychological needs top athletes must have. (...)
What I learnt from him (and previously from Shaheen, an other athlete of incredible mental talent) was:
1) The percentuage of intervention on the performance for the "self confidence" in these athletes is very high. (...)

2) the total importance of "fresh mind" before training and competitions. (...)

3) they are motivated only by top targets. (...)

They go for staying with the leaders from the start, trying till when it's possible, and when is no more possible drop out, but they go for the max intensity also if they are not ready. In London when I suggested to Kenenisa to run with the second group (it was a pace under 2:06, optimal for his courrant shape), after one minute of thinking, he answered "My mind is not ready for running with weak runners".>

You can find the full interview on

With the help of Alberto Mazzucchelli.