Kenyan Eric Ndiema hopes to make an impact in Sunday's De Lage Landen Marathon, despite a few worries in getting to Eindhoven, with internal flight problems in Kenya meaning that he only arrived in the Dutch city on Friday.
Ndiema has already achieved a lot more any other teenage runner has ever done, even compared to other notoriously prodigious Kenyan athletes, but he is still looking to make an even more indelible mark before he turns 20.
Ndiema, then only 18, ran a world junior best for the classic marathon distance of 2:06.77 when he came home third at the 2011 Amsterdam Marathon and showed that it was no fluke with a fourth-place finish at the 2012 Paris Marathon in 2:06:37 six months ago.
He celebrates his 20th birthday on December 28 but before then the youngster from the Mount Elgon area close to the border between Kenya and Uganda is aiming to become the first teenager to go under the 2:06 barrier at the 2012 De Lage Landen Marathon - an IAAF Silver Label Road Race - on Sunday (October 14).
“I feel like I am in the same shape as I was in Amsterdam last year and although I didn't go faster in Paris, I also learnt a lot there,” reflected Ndiema about his brief marathon career so far.
“I had a problem with my right thigh a few months ago, it bothered me at the Udine Half Marathon (where he finish fourth in 63:00 on September 23) but now it is better,” he added.
What helped propel Ndiema to fast times in the last year has been training with one of the greatest marathon runners ever, two-time world champion and 212 Olympic Games silver medallist Abel Kirui.
“I trained with Kirui a lot last winter and he gave me good advice. This year, in the last few months, I have also been training some days with Wilson Kipsang (the 2012 London Marathon winner and 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist).”
Internal flight problems in Kenya meant he only arrived in the Dutch city on Friday morning, nevertheless, Ndiema said he was ready to make an impact in the most important road race in Europe this weekend.
“I had big delays getting from Eldoret to Nairobi but although I am a little tired, everything will be OK when I start the marathon,” said Ndiema, quietly but confidently.
He is one of three men on Sunday's start line who have run under 2:07, and another three have gone under 2:08.
The current course record is held by Kenya's Jafred Kipchumba with 2:05:48 in 2011 but the pacemakers have been asked to take the leading group through the halfway point in 1:02:45, setting up the possibility that records could be revised by Sunday lunchtime.
Ndiema will also be looking to continue the Kenyan winning streak at the De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven which stretches back to 1999, the year David Ngetich became the first man to run under 2:10 in the race when he crossed the line 13 years ago in 2:09:24.
(Organisers for AthleticsAfrica.Com)
|Jelimo bounces back with Istanbul gold and Kenyan record||(4)|
|Ethiopians Dibaba & Gebrhiwet, Kenyan Chemos shine in Shanghai - Samsung Diamond League||(3)|
|Mayova lowers Namibian 200m record in Pretoria||(2)|
|Eko 2012: Uko and Imhoaperamhe take sprint titles at Nigeria National Sports Festival||(2)|
|First international marathon race underway in Sfax City||(2)|