Oddjob was the name of a famous James Bond villain but it was also the nickname of Ethiopia's Sisay Jisa until recently and he will become a De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven hero if he hits his target in the Dutch race on Sunday October 14.
Jisa, now 29, kept alive his dream of becoming a professional athlete for almost a decade by combining his training with doing whatever came his way to make ends meet.
However, he had his first race in Europe last year and then caught the attention of athletics fans when he finished third at the 2012 Paris Marathon in a hugely impressive 2:06:27 on his debut over the classic distance.
“Now, I want to run 2:04 in Eindhoven. I am confident I have this capability because I train with the men who were second and third in the Chicago Marathon last Sunday. I saw whet they did and now I know what I can do,” Jisa confidently told a press conference in Eindhoven on Thursday,
Jisa's compatriots Feyisa Lilesa and Tilahun Regassa ran personal best times of 2:04:52 and 2:05:27 respectively on the other side of the Atlantic less than a week ago.
“I train with them and I have no problem staying with them when we run together,” said Jisa, in simple but clear English.
The De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven course record is held by Kenya's Jafred Kipchumba who clocked 2.05.48 on the fast two-lap circuit in 2011, but he is not returning to defend his title as he has struggled to recover his form after failing to finish the Tokyo Marathon in February.
A group of five pacemakers have been instructed to go through the halfway point in 1:02:45 in order to set up the leaders for an assault on Kipchumba's standard.
“My friend Tadesse Tola (the fastest man in the Marathon Eindhoven this year and fourth in 2011) told me what a good course it is and that fast times are possible,” added Jisa.
Jisa, as you might imagine as he only started racing internationally little more than a year ago, was a late comer to athletics.
He was a budding handball player as a teenager but a coach suggested that his physical talents might be better suited to running when he was about 19.
“I started running in 2002 and then only competed in races in Ethiopia for many years.
“To earn a living, I did any odd job; that's what my friends called me. Helping them, often with building work, helping my father, but all the time I had a dream of running in Europe and big championships,” explained Jisa, now with his days as construction worker behind him.
For more information about the 2012 De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven (in Dutch and English) Visit: http://www.marathoneindhoven.nl/
(Organisers for AthleticsAfrica.Com/ Photo by Studio CLARK)
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