Renders follow Rousseau’s golden philosophy in Brussels?
30 April 2002 - When the 11th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships are staged in Brussels this Sunday 5 May, it will be the second time that this particular World Athletics Series event has been hosted by Belgium’s capital city.
Back in 1993 on the 3 October during the second edition of the World Half Marathon, it was a Belgium athlete who stole the men’s gold for the home country.
The master of Brussels that day was Vincent Rousseau, then a 31-year-old Belgium army corporal, who took his place in road race history after a career littered with many disappointing track performances. There had never been any doubt that Rousseau possessed amazing versatility: a 3:36 1500m runner who could also boast a 13:10 5000m and a 27:23 10,000 metres - but it took his sprint victory on 3 October 1993, in a national record of 61:06 to finally prove his running brilliance to the world.
Belgium has two good medal chances for this year’s championship too, in the men’s race Mohammed Mourhit who has twice been World Cross Country Champion and in the women’s contest, the national record holder Marleen Renders.
Currently in brilliant form, Renders won the recent Paris Marathon with a near solo effort in a new personal best of 2:23:05 on 7 April, beating her previous best (2:23:43) which she set when winning the 2000 Paris title.
Renders who has also claimed the 1995 Antwerp and 1998 Berlin Marathons, has a World Half Marathon history which stretches nearly as far back as Rousseau’s win, with a 7th place finish in 1994 and 13th in 1995.
As with the marathon distance, Renders has recently set a new personal best at half marathon with 1:08:56 in the Hague on 23 March 2002, when finishing a close second behind Kenya’s Lenah Cheruiyot (1:08:54) who is in the Kenyan team for Brussels.
Similarly to Rousseau, Renders who is a former World junior record holder at 10,000m, has an admirably versatile running pedigree with a 15:19 5000m and a 31:03 10,000m to her name.
The question this Sunday will be whether Renders opts for Rousseau’s “wait and see” philosophy counting on a final sprint or decides for a solo effort, similar to her run in Paris. Whatever Renders’ decision it is certain that she, along with Mohammed Mourhit will offer Belgium its best hope of medal honours, when a record 64 countries take to the streets of Brussels for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.