Zersenay Tadese exuded self confidence today as he killed off the hopes of his opponents at the IAAF / CAIXA World Half Marathon Championships and reconfirmed his ambitions to debut at the full marathon distance next year.
In good weather for road running, sun shine, 23C, with 78% humidity, and a light wind blowing off the South Atlantic reducing any impact those conditions might have had, Tadese ran his own race to which his opponents had no answer.
The two-time defending champion came to the front of the race at just before 5km and was never headed again.
Was the plan to attack at 5km?
“No I just simply had it in my mind that I would test the situation by that point,” answered Tadese. “If they (leaders) we going too slow for me (by the end of the decline off the hill) I would push but if the pace was good I would follow. The pace was not good!”
“I was always confident of winning. For one month in Eritrea I went into hard training to prepare especially for this race. My body told me I was in good shape.”
“The third victory makes this win very special to me....The people here were great (in their support).”
The Eritrean team manager confirmed that “like his previous victories everyone will be waiting to greet him on his return to Eritrea. The President will be there at the airport to meet him. This is huge (news) in our country.”
Will Tadese now take some time to relax and see this ‘wonderful city’ of Rio and its beautiful beaches?
“It is a very beautiful city but I go home tomorrow. We have beaches like this in Eritrea,” confirmed Tadese referring to the wide sandy beaches and calm seas along the Red Sea coast near Asseb, as his team manager was quick to confirm.
What are your plans now for this year and next. You’ll run a marathon?
“Yes, I will run a marathon in 2009 but I must talk to my manager about which race. Spring or autumn, it has not yet been decided.”
We hear you are getting married this December?
“I really haven’t decided yet about marriage,” Tadese hesitantly replies.
It is the first lack of self confidence we have picked up from the three-time champion all day!
But then as THE sporting hero back home, and one of the most well-known names in the whole of Eritrea, perhaps it is not surprisingly to imagine it will not be just big city marathon race directors who will be hammering on Tadese’s door in the coming weeks?!
Chris Turner for the IAAF