Tokyo Olympic dreams boosted by marathon as Gebrselassie's hopes fade
Sunday, 26 February 2012
February 26 - An estimated two million spectators turned out to watch 36,000 runners compete in the Tokyo Marathon today to help boost the Japanese capital's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics on a day when the London 2012 dreams of Haile Gebrselassie appeared to fade.
The huge crowd, together with some 10,000 enthusiastic volunteers helped showcase the city's atmosphere of fun and excitement, regardless of nationality, gender, age or disabilities.
But for Gebrselassie, arguably the greatest distance runner in history and the former world record holder for the marathon, his Olympic hopes appear to be over after he finished only fourth in 2 hours 8min 17sec.
That time would guarantee him a place in most country's Olympic teams for London 2012 but is only the 14th fastest by an Ethopian this year and seems unlikely to sway the selectors to him the opportunity to add the marathon title he so covets to the 10,000 metres gold medals he won at Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney 2000.
Not that Gebrselassie is prepared to give up on his dream yet.
"I could run another marathon in two weeks," he said."
Gebrselassie had led the race with three miles to go before he was caught by Kenyan Michael Kipyego, who surged ahead to win in 2:07:37.
He was also overtaken by Japan's Arata Fujiwara and Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich.
"I felt fantastic here for the first 30 kilometres, then had some problems at the end of the race," said Gebrselassie.
"Sometimes you are too ambitious.
"This can happen. My target was 2:05 today but it didn't work out that way.
"On the last downhill, I started to get some pain in my back.
"The last 5km was the worst I've ever run."
The marathon course went through the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone as defined by the Tokyo 2020 Games plan.
The course offered remarkable views of its innovative and top tier infrastructure, such as the Tokyo Tower and the newly designed Tokyo Sky Tree - a
new symbol tower of Tokyo with a height of 634 metres - in addition to Ginza's centuries-old establishments and trendy boutiques.
The competitors then headed to the waterfront Tokyo Bay Zone and the finish line at Tokyo Big Sight, an convention centre that will be the venue for wrestling, powerlifting, fencing, taekwondo, boccia, and wheelchair fencing as well as the home of the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre (IBC/MPC) during Tokyo 2020.
"The Tokyo Marathon is an extraordinary exhibition that demonstrates the remarkable power of sport and its ability to unite and inspire us all," said Masato Mizuno, the chief executive of Tokyo 2020.
"I am proud to be a part of an incredible sporting city with the dynamic atmosphere permeating us all.
"The Tokyo Marathon is a great showcase of our hosting experience and I look forward to Tokyo playing host again to all our international friends in 2020."
September 2011: Kenyan sets world record in Berlin Marathon as Gebrselassie drops out
September 2011: For Gebrselassie making it to London 2012 is more important than winning Berlin Marathon
November 2010: Mike Rowbottom - Knowing when to quit is the hardest thing to do
November 2010: Gebrselassie reverses decision to retire and will run at London 2012
November 2010: Legend Gebrselassie retires from running and will miss London 2012