2014 London Marathon: Haile Gebrselassie says crowd the key for Mo Farah
Haile Gebrselassie says the home crowd can help Mo Farah mark his first full London Marathon with victory on Sunday.
By Shaun Curran
Last Updated: 10/04/14 8:12pm
The Ethiopian, who will run as pacemaker this weekend, twice held the world marathon record and is widely regarded as one of the greatest-ever distance runners.
And the 41-year-old has warned Farah's rivals that vociferous support on the streets of London this weekend can help the double Olympic champion, just as it did when Paula Radcliffe broke the women's world record in 2005.
"That is one of the advantages for Mo," he told Sky Sports. "I remember in 2005 when Paula broke the record, there were so many people in the street to support her when she ran that time. But there is also a disadvantage sometimes, as it is a lot of pressure. When you have lots of people expecting something from you, the pressure is there."
Having run the first half of last year's race, Farah makes his full marathon debut against last year's champion Tsegaye Kebede, world record holder Wilson Kipsang, Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich and course record holder Emmanuel Mutai, in a field he says is "the best ever".
The consensus among the elite men from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda appears to be that Farah is unlikely to win on his debut, but Gebrselassie says the Brit should not be underestimated.
"If the other runners allow Farah to be with them for the last five kilometres, he can win easily. His kick is so amazing. According to what I've heard about his preparations, the east Africans are facing a big challenge from Mo. Look at what happened last week with Kenenisa Bekele winning in Paris (on his marathon debut). I don't make one the favourite. It is a race for everyone and the best one will win."
The running legend, who won 10,000m gold at both the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, says patience is the key if Farah is to upset the odds and beat his illustrious opponents.
"For Mo now, at the beginning he has to be patient, to just wait. Of course, he is always like that. For example, for me when I ran my first marathon, at the beginning, at 10 or 15 kilometres, my body was saying to me, 'Why is this so slow? I have to go faster'.
"But the price is paid after 35 km. After 35km the body starts to react. That's the hard part. The last 5km felt like another 40km! Any marathon race always starts after 30km."
Gebrselassie expects to drop out somewhere around half way having made the pace, but has not ruled out lasting the distance if his body can cope with the demands.
"I am just happy to be part of this race, or at least to start it anyway. Can you imagine athletes from teenagers to my age, it is a big test. I want to see how far I am from these youngsters. But we'll see; I'll accept anything. I hope I can carry on beyond 30km, but that won't be easy."