Bekele Feeling In Good Shape Ahead Of Manchester

Coverage of the Great Manchester Run is on BBC Two from 11am on Sunday with highlights showing from 6pm

KENENISA BEKELE will be planning to make up for the disappointment of missing out on selection for the Rio Olympics by putting in a strong performance in Manchester this weekend.

Bekele is the world's greatest endurance runner, holding the 5,000m and 10,000m world records, with three Olympic gold medals to his name, and five World Championship golds.

The Ethiopian made a move into the marathon distance in 2014, winning the Paris Marathon that year, but has suffered a succession of injuries and, despite a third-place finish in the London Marathon in April, the 33-year-old has only been named as a reserve for the Ethiopian marathon team for Rio.

Bekele's achievements in the capital were all the more impressive as he had only completed six weeks of specific marathon training, after an Achilles injury that was only 90% healed.

However, the 2014 Great Manchester Run winner feels in good enough shape to challenge for honours in the North West on Sunday as he uses the event to continue his rehabilitation.

“It's a really short time after the marathon, I'm still recovering from that, but it's okay – not perfect, but okay,” said Bekele.

“I want to do the marathon in Rio, I want to fight for a medal, it's not easy but I always want to be the best.”

Bekele, who took on Mo Farah and Haile Gebrselassie in the 2013 Great North Run and won in what was billed as the greatest road race of all-time, paid tribute to the spectators in the UK ahead of Europe's biggest 10k event, with 35,000 expected to take part in the mass participation run.

“I like running here in Manchester,” he said. “People are always very supportive. There's a big crowd. In the UK I've found people are motivated for the sport and are always encouraging.

“I'm happy that I'm here. It's a great country and I want to thank everyone who is motivating athletics. It's really fantastic to run here, with such great people and a great crowd.”

Coverage of the Great Manchester Run is on BBC Two from 11am on Sunday with highlights showing from 6pm