London Marathon 2014: Mo Farah's last kick is key in 'best marathon ever,' says Haile Gebrselassie

But Ethiopian distance legend claims Briton would never trouble the East African contingent on the track

athletics correspondent

Haile Gebrselassie has learnt not to write off Mo Farah. Long before Farah had blitzed to his double Olympic and world titles, Gebrselassie was adamant the Briton would never trouble the East African contingent on the track. Those words, said Farah, were the catalyst for getting serious about taking on and beating the best in the world.

The consensus among the elite men from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda is that Farah could win Sunday's Virgin Money London Marathon though most, on what is his debut, see it as unlikely.

But Gebrselassie, arguably the greatest distance runner of all time – with nine marathon wins to his name, two Olympic gold medals and four World Championship titles – sees things differently. "His last kick is so amazing," Gebrselassie said. "If they allow him to be with them for the last five kilometres, he can win easily. According to what I've heard about his preparations, the East Africans are facing a big challenge from Mo.

"Look at what happened last week with Kenenisa Bekele [another marathon debutant] winning in Paris. Athletes like Mo and Kenenisa, who come from the track, are used to this speed. For them, to run 2min 55sec per kilometre is just jogging."

In the week before his 41st birthday, the Ethiopian could play an integral role in the race outcome as undeniably the most prestigious pacemaker of all time in what he believes is "the best marathon ever. I've never seen such big names in one race, men and women. It's going to be very interesting on Sunday and I myself am just happy to be a part of the race, at least to start the race."

Haile Gebrselassie intends to set a fierce tempo in London on Sunday (AP) Haile Gebrselassie intends to set a fierce tempo in London on Sunday (AP)
Lining up alongside Farah and Gebrselassie will be world record-holder Wilson Kipsang and Olympic and world champion Stephen Kiprotich.

Gebrselassie's task is to help lower the world-record time of 2hr 3min 23sec set by Kipsang in Berlin last year, the initial goal being to take the field past the 10km barrier with the clock at 28min 50sec. Such pace over the 26.2-mile course could prove Farah's undoing. Gebrselassie is aware that in the latter stages Farah, as Gebrselassie was on his marathon debut over the same course, will be running well into his reserves.

Gebrselassie, who finished third on that occasion, said: "It is a physical test. I remember in 2002 when I ran here in London, I was good until 40km but the last two kilometres felt like another 30. Mentally I wanted to win but physically I couldn't do it. In the marathon you can burn yourself out. Somewhere around 20 to 25km you can start to push and end up 'kaput'. Mo at the beginning has to be patient and just wait. In my first marathon, my body was saying to me, 'I have to go faster'. But the price was paid after 35km, the body starts to react. That's the hard part – any marathon race always starts after 30km."

While Gebrselassie is adamant that a first men's home victory is on the cards since Eamonn Martin in 1993, others are not so convinced. The rising star of men's marathon running, Tsegaye Mekonnen, the 18-year-old who won on his marathon debut in Dubai in January, said: "I don't think Mo will win."

The defending champion Tsegaye Kebede believes a Farah victory is plausible while the other standout marathon debutant, Ethiopia's Ibrahim Jeilan, is hoping an aforementioned kick to the line materialises.

It was Jeilan's late burst of speed that denied Farah the 2011 10,000m world title. Should such a situation arise on Sunday, Jeilan admitted: "It will be a dream."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
tvMark Wright and Bianca Miller fight for Lord Sugar's investment
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick