13 OCT 2012 General News Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Ndiema wants to leave his teens on a high note in Eindhoven

Eric Ndiema on the eve of the Eindhoven Marathon (Marathon Eindhoven / Phil Minshull )Eric Ndiema on the eve of the Eindhoven Marathon (Marathon Eindhoven / Phil Minshull ) © Copyright
Eric Ndiema has already achieved a lot more than 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 28 December 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 (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 1:03:00 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 2012 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)."

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 morning, 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.

Phil Minshull (organisers) for the IAAF