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FELIX THE GIANT KILLER
Berlin, Friday Sept 24, 12.30gmt
Not many athletes can count a victory over Haile Gebrselassie at the
Ethiopian’s peak, but Felix Limo is a rare example. The Kenyan matched the
multi-medallist and world record holding Ethiopian stride for stride in the
Nijmegen 15k in 2001, and came away with a world record of his own, 41min
29sec for the distance.
"Initially, I didn't want him to beat me by a big margin," recalls Limo of
the race in the Netherlands. "I would have been happy with two or three
seconds behind, but when we got to three kilometres from the end, he wasn't
'going'. It was the same with one kilometre to go, and 500 and 300 metres,
he wasn’t moving. When I reacted, he didn’t follow me."
Now Limo is lining himself up against another all-time great. Paul Tergat
isn't running the real,-Berlin Marathon this year, but it's Tergat's world
record 2hr 04min 55sec from last year that Limo has in his sights in the
German capital tomorrow (Sunday).
Limo, 24, already has the fastest marathon time of the year, his 2hr 06min
14sec victory in Rotterdam in early April. But the example of his seven
Kenyan colleagues, including Tergat, who have won here in the last nine
years, has brought him to Berlin with ambitions to go a lot faster. "I'm
not preparing for the world record, I'm just coming to win the race, and at
least improve my time. I'm 80 seconds outside the record. So many people
have come here, and run their fastest time, so why not me?"
On paper, his only real adversaries would appear to be two compatriots, who
have also run under 2.07 – Fred Kiprop, who won Amsterdam five years ago,
in 2.06.47, and Wilson Onsare, third in Paris last year in the same time.
But the consistency of the Japanese runners, although not quite as good as
the women, means that Limo does not discount Shinichi Watanabe, 2.09.55
this year, and Michitane Noda, 2.09.58 last year.
"Onsare is the main threat, but I don't want to underestimate the Japanese
guys, they might turn the tables," says Limo.