Olympic medallists Tariku Bekele and Abel Kirui aim to continue African dominance at the world’s leading 10-mile running event, the Bupa Great South Run, this Sunday.
Ethiopian Bekele, who won 10,000m bronze at this summer’s Olympics, and London 2012 marathon silver medallist Kirui, from Kenya, will join a field of 25,000 runners in the IAAF Gold Label meeting over 10 miles in Portsmouth this weekend.
The duo will be serious contenders to continue the almost-constant roll of victories achieved by runners from their continent, interrupted since the first event in the city by only Gary Staines’ triple successes in the 1990s, and Mo Farah’s superb win three years ago.
Bekele, the 27-year-old younger, but highly-talented, brother of the legendary Kenenisa, will bring a 10-mile personal best of 46.44min to the meeting, where Joseph Ebuya set the UK All-Comers’ record of 45.16 with his superb 2010 victory.
Significantly, however, the two-time Olympian clocked a very fast 15k mark time of 43.35 (9.3 miles) when winning the San Silvestre race in Sao Paulo, Brazil on last New Year’s Eve.
‘It was touch and go whether Bekele would compete after feeling a hamstring strain in the recent Lisbon Half Marathon, but he has been given medical clearance to come to Portsmouth,’ said Peter Riley, the Bupa Great South Run elite athletes manager.
Kirui will return to Portsmouth where last year, on his international debut over the distance, he set a lifetime best of 46.40 when finishing runner-up behind Leonard Komen, rapidly closing his fellow Kenyan down in the second half of the race.
‘Having won the past two World Championships titles then finishing second at the Olympic Games, Kirui’s without a doubt the most consistent marathon runner about at the moment,’ said Riley.
‘He’s also a very capable performer over the shorter distance, and with knowledge of the course from last year he will again be a strong contender.’
n Don’t miss The News on Saturday for our Great South Run preview.
And we will publish all the results in a special pull-out next Tuesday.