She had been primed to run well in New York last year.
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LONDON — Tiki Gelana came to New York last November for the ING New York City Marathon as the newly crowned Olympic Marathon champion and record holder, and she was ready to race. Under her coach, Getaneh Tessema, she had successfully restarted her training after her Olympic victory in August and was ready to run her third marathon of the year, the final stop for the 2011-2012 World Marathon Majors series.
“I was well prepared for New York,” she told reporters here today. “Unfortunately, because of the weather it was canceled.”
Like all of the other top athletes who has prepared for New York, Gelana was devastated. But, her disappointment was tempered by the knowledge that others were suffering, having lost their lives, businesses and homes.
“We came there on Tuesday … and on Friday the race was canceled,” Tessema told Race Results Weekly in an interview here. “She was really upset [but] it was so bad what happened. People had problems. She had to understand that position.”
Prior to the race in New York, Gelana’s management team at Global Sports Communications had already secured her a place in Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon. Tessema knew that trying to put her into a “replacement” marathon would be a mistake, and that it was best for her to run a shorter before starting her dedicated build-up for London. Here she’ll face a very strong field led by reigning world champion Edna Kiplagat and Olympic Marathon bronze medalist Priscah Jeptoo, both of Kenya. She had to be totally prepared.
“Not at all, not at all,” Tessema said when asked if Gelana had considered doing another marathon after the New York cancellation. “We were there for New York. Even when we trained, we did not think about another option. So, we were planning for New York, and when New York was canceled, that was it.”
Gelana, who ran an Ethiopian record 2:18:58 at the Rotterdam Marathon last April, instead ran the ABN-AMRO Zevenheuvelenloop 15-K (Seven Hills Run) in Nijmegen, Netherlands on November 18, taking second to compatriot and sister Olympic gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba. After that, Tessema said that she did not find it difficult to restart her training.
“She’s not that kind of athlete,” he said. “She’s a hard worker; she likes to work very hard. It was not a problem at all to get her back into the training.”
And training has been good, but athlete and coach said. Two other women who will run here, Atsede Baysa (2:22:03 PB) and Meselech Melkamu (2:21:01) trained with Gelana, so she had an excellent group surrounding her.
“It was a very nice preparation,” Gelana said in Amharic with Tessema providing an English translation. “I can say it was better than ever, and I am very prepared for Sunday.”
While Paula Radcliffe’s absolute world record of 2:15:25 should not come under threat on Sunday, the 1:09:30 first half split organizers have requested of the pacemakers certainly make Radcliffe’s world standard for an all-women’s race of 2:17:42 a least a possibility with a fast second half. Gelana, who smiled with slight embarrassment when asked if she had world record aspirations, allowed that she did indeed hope to keep improving her time.
“Of course, every time you train, you train to run a better time,” she said. “You never know what will happen, maybe in the future.”