FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
London's Champions Look To The Future
Just 24 hours after their commanding victories in the first Virgin London
Marathon yesterday, Tsegaye Kebede and Liliya Shobukhova were already
setting their sights on future challenges this afternoon.
Kebede became only the second Ethiopian to win the men's race when he
stormed home in 2:05:19 on Sunday and today the 23-year-old wasted little
time in targeting Haile Gebrselassie's world record.
"This victory was more than I expected," he said. "Fortunately, I made it
and in the future I am expecting to get better. I'm still young and have a
long way to go.
"I think of Haile as a model because he's the best, the record holder, so
that's my aim, to be as good as him. If my health is right I know I can
manage anything but my ambition is to go for his record, and I'm sure I can
Gebrselassie's record stands at 2:03:59, and while Kebede is yet to break
2:05, he showed in the second half of yesterday's rainy race that he has
the potential get significantly faster.
Kebede's finishing time was only one second outside his personal best, and
only nine off the course record set by Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru last
year. Yet Kebede believes he could have run under 2:05 but for the sluggish
first half and the wet roads that hampered his speed during his long,
lonely drive to the line.
Shobukhova also thinks she has more to come. Finishing in 2:22:00
yesterday, she clipped a massive two minutes 24 seconds from the PB she set
on her debut when finishing third here last year.
"I believe I have the potential to run sub-2:22 or sub-2:21 every time I
compete now, but if I have to run faster to win I believe I can do that."
Shobukhova dominated Sunday's race from the front but still had enough
strength to power home over the last 2.195km in six minutes 53 seconds,
faster than Paula Radcliffe ran when setting the world record on the same
course in 2003. That's hardly surprising, as the 32-year-old Russian is the
European record holder over 5000m and has great track speed.
Indeed, although, as Chicago and London champion, she already has an
impressive marathon pedigree, Shobukhova has not yet abandoned her track
"The next goal for me is to win the 10,000m at the European Championships
this summer," she confirmed.
As for the next marathon, Shobukhova believes the Berlin marathon in
September will be too soon, so either a title defence in Chicago in
October, or a tilt at November's New York race will be her next marathon
Ultimately, however, her long-term aim is to win the Olympic marathon back
in London in 2012.
Not surprisingly, Kebede also has London 2012 in his plans. "I believe the
London 2012 masrathon is waiting for me, so I am going to be well prepared
for that," he said.
Before then, of course, both champions are likely to return to London in 12
months' time to defend their Virgin titles. "It goes without saying that we
will invite you back next year," race director Dave Bedford told them. "You
are great champions."
Indeed they are.