Kenenisa Bekele, the 5,000 and 10,000 metre world record holder now has plans to focus on a debut in the marathon and insists he will only run when he is ready to win.
After a troublesome three years with calf injuries Bekele looked a replenished man when he defeated Mo Farah in a dramatic showdown at the Great North Run in September, his debut at the distance.
This came after many episodes of hurt for the distance great as he contemplated his future in the sport.
“I thought my career had come to an end – not only one time, but two or three times” said Bekele when speaking to the IAAF.
“I tried to come back each time, but still the injury was not good and I thought ‘maybe I’m not coming back to competition again.”
Huge excitement is already beginning to grow as many predict a Bekele-Farah rematch in London, a distance both are unfamiliar with.
In their latest clash, Bekele displayed the tactical brilliance that fans have become accustomed to since his breakthrough on the world stage in 2002. Whilst easing off half way through the race to lead his opponents into a false sense of security, Bekele came back to hold off a fierce Farah kick in the closing stages, something which hasn’t been done for over two years.
The 31 year old has however made it clear he does not know when his career in marathon running will begin and put it simply when he said: “If I am going to do a Marathon, of course, I want to win.
“It is not easy (to choose). London is also a fast course and 2:05 is not easy. The only thing is New York is not as fast as other Marathons. Berlin is a fast course and Rotterdam in the Netherlands is fast, and Dubai is a fast course. So I don’t know where I can join.”
The challenge will be drawing the star to an event as athletes like these don’t come for free, or at all cheap.
Despite his debut predicament his marathon training is well under way. Having made adjustments to his 5,000 and 10,000 metre plan which lead him to an Olympic double in 2008, Bekele has added more volume to his preparations.
With a lot of his work accompanied by his younger brother Tariku Bekele, who achieved a bronze medal behind Galen Rupp and Farah in the 10,000 metre final at the 2012 Olympics, he revealed he does a three hour run every week.
Along with this, he is up at the crack of dawn running in his favourite areas; Sululta, where he has a resort hotel complete with a 400 metre track, and in Sendafa, where the elevation is 2,700 metre above sea level.
“Of course, if I train hard I will do a fast time. But I can’t say I will run 2:03, 2:05 or 2:06. I cannot say. The only thing is I have to prepare myself and train hard until I finish a marathon. I have to motivate myself to train hard to be ready to put myself in a good position. We will see in the end what will be the result,” Bekele revealed.
These days the Ethiopian spends a lot of time at his newly opened 50-room hotel in Addis. The Kenenisa Hotel, as it is named, is only five minutes on a good day from Bole International Airport and he is busy marketing the property.
Whilst his celebrity status in his home country of Ethiopia has been duly deserved, who knows whether he will rise to his last challenge on the long roads of the marathon.