Nanning, ChinaThe IAAF / LOC press conference on the eve of the IAAF / SINOPEC World Half Marathon Championships, was held today (15) at the Guijing Hotel in the centre of Nanning.
In attendance were Lamine Diack, IAAF President; Pierre Weiss, IAAF General Secretary; Chunde Shen, Deputy Direcoty or Athletics Management and General Administrator of Sports in China; and Guozhong Li, Vice Mayor of Nanning, and the LOC Deputy Director.
Athletes in attendance were Zersenay Tadese (ERI), four-time World Half Marathon champion (2006-2009), World record holder in the Half Marathon (58:23); Florence Jebet Kiplagat (KEN), 2009 World Cross Country champion; Benita Willis (AUS), 2004 World Cross Country Champion and 2003 World Half Marathon bronze medallist; and Zhu Xiaolin (CHN), 4th in the 2008 Olympic Marathon and 5th in the 2009 World Championships Marathon.
Some of the highlights:
Zersenay Tadese (ERI) -
On his goal as he defends his title:
For tomorrow I have prepared very well. First and foremost I will try to win. It is never easy. It is always difficult with some of the best athletes in the world in the field. Everybody is going to run for the win. But I will try. First I will try to win, then maybe I’ll try for the World record. That’s difficult to say now.
On the warm conditions expected:
It will be quite hot and humid, but it will be hot and humid for everybody, so I’m not worried that.
Does he have any tactics in place?
It depends on the pace at the beginning. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.
Is he in similar shape that he was in March when he broke the World record?
Yes, I have no problems. I’m in good condition, very similar to March. I haven’t had any injuries and feel good. No problems.
Can he go faster over the distance?
I can still go faster. But I don’t know if under 58 minutes is possible. I will try for the world record again. Maybe next year in Lisbon again.
Florence Kiplagat (KEN) -
On her own expectations, and her team goals for the race:
I have done the training and am prepared. In my mind I believe in myself. I think the team for Kenya is not bad, so tomorrow I hope we can win.
On her debut over the Half Marathon distance in Lille on 4 September, where she ran 1:07:40:
I still had lots of energy left. But it was just my first time in the half marathon, so it was a very new experience.
Is the Marathon in her future running plans?
I’m not sure yet about the future, whether I’ll stay focused on the track or the roads. I’ve already won a medal at Cross Country and I have to look for a medal before I leave the track. That is my goal for next year (World Championships in Daegu) and at the next Olympics.
Zhu Xiaolin (CHN) –
I’m very delighted to be here and to compete against some of the best athletes in the world here at home. I hope to be able to win a medal for China and to break my own record.
On the crowd of 300,000 people expected to line the course –
I look forward to it. I don’t think the crowd will bring any pressure. They will actually give me more energy and help me to run even faster.
Benita Willis (AUS) –
Are there any secrets on beating African runners who have dominated the international scene in the distances?
There are no secrets to beating the Africans because they are absolutely fantastic. They are always the hardest ones to beat. They run themselves into the ground. And certainly when I won World cross I probably couldn’t have run more than a few steps over the line.
I got a bronze medal at the 2003 World Half Marathon Championships and that medal really made me believe that I could get a medal at major championships. And then I went on to win World cross the year after. So championships like this have always meant a lot to me. That 2003 championships will always be a great memory, something that I remember as helping me win that Cross Country title.
IAAF President Lamine Diack -
Some of the world’s best runners have come to China, from every corner of the world, to take part in what is the only IAAF World Championships for road runners. Road running is a thriving and fast growing branch of athletics and very important for the IAAF.
China has organised many IAAF competitions, and we have very fond memories of the 2006 World Juniors in Beijing, and of course, the wonderful athletics competition at the Olympic Games in 2008. It is clear that there is a real desire in China to develop athletics and make it more popular, not only with this event in Nanning, but also in the future.
In particular, I would like to thank our title sponsor for this event SINOPEC, and it is a great honour for the IAAF to have such a prestigious and famous Chinese corporation as sponsor of this event. I sincerely hope that this partnership will continue in the future.
Guozhong Li, Vice Mayor of Nanning, and the LOC Deputy Director –
We’ve been working very hard for the past two years to prepare for this championship, and we’re very excited that the best athletes in the world have come to Nanning.
It’s fair to say that the beautiful and passionate Nanning is ready to host a great championship.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF