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It is a privilege to be here - Tegla Loroupe in Rome

Tegla Loroupe: "It is a privilege to be here"

30 December 1999 – Rome, Italy – "It is a privilege for me to be here and run in Rome on the first day of the new millennium,""said Tegla Loroupe, the diminutive Kenyan who has dominated the women’s marathon in recent years.

Loroupe was speaking in Rome, just 48 hours before the start of the IAAF Rome Millennium marathon. "I haven’t seen the course yet, but I have been training in Kenya and I really want to do my best here.

"You know, there are so many athletes who would like to have been here and run in Rome on this day. It is very special, it is the first day of a new century.

"I think I can run 2:27, 2:28, but like I said, I haven’t seen the course yet. I will certainly be doing my best to win!"

Loroupe attended the pre-race press conference given by IAAF President Lamine Diack in the Marathon Centre, set up by the IAAF Rome Millennium Marathon organising committee in the EUR Conference Centre.

Opening the press conference, the IAAF President paid tribute to his predecessor, Dr Primo Nebiolo, who had originally launched the idea of holding this VI edition of the Maratona di Roma on the first day of the year 2000, at the start of the new millennium. "It was one of the many initiatives launched by Primo Nebiolo and is symbolic of our intention to go into the new millennium as the strongest of international sports federations, the central sport of the Olympics and leaders in promoting the culture of sport around the world.

"Athletics will enter the coming century in a very strong position, we are currently negotiating agreements that will ensure the future of the IAAF and, consequently, of our sport for many years to come."

Though many of the leading athletes at the starting line on 1 January of the year 2000, are not of the Christian faith, the special symbolism of this marathon, which will start after the blessing of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, is felt by them all. "It is really something very special," said Loroupe, after receiving her number 1 bib from Lamine Diack.

Following the press conference, the IAAF President was received by the Mayor of Rome, Francesco Rutelli, who has played a major role in enabling the organisation of the IAAF Rome Millennium Marathon in the Italian capital, despite all of the constraints imaginable on this first day of the new millennium. Mayor Rutelli will himself take part in the five kilometre "Stracittadina" fun-run, organised in conjunction with the Marathon.